The End of College?

Criticism / Molly K. Robey

:: The End of College? ::

In the spring of 2018, the fic­tion writer Danielle Evans vis­it­ed the small, mid­west­ern lib­er­al arts col­lege where I teach in the Eng­lish depart­ment. Evans read her recent­ly pub­lished short sto­ry, “Boys Go to Jupiter,” and I’ve been think­ing about it ever since. Clear­ly, I’m not the only one to have felt its pow­er. Rox­ane Gay recent­ly select­ed the sto­ry for the 2018 edi­tion of the icon­ic Best Amer­i­can Short Sto­ries series.

Boys Go to Jupiter” tells the sto­ry of Claire, a white, first-year stu­dent at fic­tion­al Den­nis Col­lege in New Eng­land, who finds her­self at the cen­ter of esca­lat­ing con­tro­ver­sy after a pho­to­graph of her wear­ing a Con­fed­er­ate flag biki­ni goes viral. She’s goad­ed into wear­ing the swim­suit by a tem­po­rary boyfriend, and she goes along with it, hop­ing the “trashy” biki­ni will piss off her new step­moth­er. Claire bare­ly reg­is­ters the sig­nif­i­cance of her cloth­ing choice, until the boyfriend posts the pho­to to Face­book. It doesn’t take long for the pho­to to become a sub­ject of intense debate and con­tro­ver­sy. Claire’s African-Amer­i­can hall mate prompt­ly sees the pho­to and tweets her out­rage. Claire’s pho­to is repost­ed and re-tweet­ed in var­i­ous con­texts. The local­ly trend­ing top­ic #clairewil­liamsva­ca­tion­ideas includes the sug­ges­tions “Auschwitz, My Lai,” and “Wound­ed Knee.” [i] An orga­ni­za­tion named the Her­itage Defend­ers takes up what they imag­ine to be Claire’s cause (though Claire, a recent res­i­dent of the north­ern Vir­ginia sub­urbs, can hard­ly claim south­ern iden­ti­ty). Claire’s email address is made pub­lic, and hun­dreds of angry, sup­port­ive, and porno­graph­ic mes­sages find their way to her inbox. With­in a few days, the Den­nis Col­lege cam­pus has erupt­ed in ten­sion. Claire her­self dou­bles down in the midst of this con­tro­ver­sy, print­ing a Con­fed­er­ate flag post­card for the hall mate and post­ing anoth­er to her dorm door. Claire’s advis­er and the Vice Dean of Diver­si­ty ask Claire to apol­o­gize for her behav­ior. At the cam­pus town hall held to help stu­dents process the anger and fear the biki­ni pho­to has inspired, Claire remains unre­pen­tant. In this moment, sur­round­ed by angry peers, Claire per­sists in telling her­self “she can still be any­body she wants to.” [ii]

For those of us who work and live in the world of the small lib­er­al arts col­lege, the story’s events ring true. Over the past four years, our small school has wit­nessed assort­ed inci­dents: the tear­ing down of Black Lives Mat­ter posters and the defac­ing of Mus­lim Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion posters, the scrawl­ing of the n‑word across the “Aspi­ra­tion Foun­tain” where ori­en­ta­tion lead­ers encour­age first-year stu­dents to chalk their hopes and dreams. We’ve watched the uni­ver­si­ty respond to each inci­dent in its insti­tu­tion­al man­ner, with forums held and force­ful yet vague promis­es made to meet stu­dent demands for a bet­ter, more inclu­sive, cam­pus cli­mate. Stu­dents have orga­nized and request­ed that fac­ul­ty receive manda­to­ry diver­si­ty train­ing each year, and the fac­ul­ty have assent­ed. Evans’s sto­ry sug­gests that these kinds of insti­tu­tion­al respons­es are inad­e­quate; they bare­ly scratch the sur­face of the mod­ern prob­lems such events man­i­fest: the ways that social media deter­mine the truths with­in which we must live, the ways that priv­i­lege has co-opt­ed the lan­guage of resis­tance, the com­plex­i­ty of indi­vid­ual cul­pa­bil­i­ty in a sys­tem­i­cal­ly racist soci­ety. But for those of us who work in this world, some­thing else res­onates here as well. The sto­ry asserts that the idea of college—as a space of trans­for­ma­tion and reinvention—is mere fic­tion. When Claire tells her­self in the midst of this chaos that, “she can still be any­body she wants to,” we know she is wrong.

Like Claire, I believed that in col­lege I would be able to become any­body I want­ed to. This was the mid-1990s, and my pile of col­lege brochures, each thick and glossy, full of beau­ti­ful­ly casu­al peo­ple walk­ing past lush, ancient trees in their sweat­shirts, was a trea­sured stash. I stud­ied these images, try­ing to deter­mine the per­fect place to go, the place where I would become myself, some­one whol­ly new and still unthink­able. Shirley Mar­chalo­nis com­pares this ide­al of col­lege to the “green world” described by Shake­speare schol­ars. [iii] In this view, col­lege is a space “away from the ‘real world’’’ that has “its own real­i­ty,” a space that is “beau­ti­ful, mys­te­ri­ous, and mag­i­cal.” [iv] This col­lege is a “place of trans­for­ma­tion,” where “tem­po­rary inhab­i­tants grow, change, seek iden­ti­ties and find solu­tions.” [v] This col­lege was the one I assumed was wait­ing for me. The impres­sion in my mind was vague but pal­pa­ble. Much like the title char­ac­ter of Owen Johnson’s 1912 nov­el Stover at Yale, I antic­i­pat­ed the free­dom that col­lege seemed to promise. I, too, imag­ined that the free­dom “to ven­ture and to expe­ri­ence” would lead me to the knowl­edge of “that strange, guard­ed mystery—life.” [vi]

For the past few years, I have been study­ing the sto­ries we tell about col­lege. Per­haps because I keep hear­ing the refrain that high­er edu­ca­tion is in “cri­sis” (a cur­so­ry search for “cri­sis” on The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion web­site will yield more than 230 arti­cles pub­lished in the past year alone), or per­haps because my stu­dents’ expe­ri­ence of col­lege life appears so dif­fer­ent from my own, I’ve felt drawn to think­ing about the ways that col­lege has been under­stood and imag­ined. The sto­ries we tell about col­lege are chang­ing. Are they chang­ing because col­lege itself has changed? A num­ber of schol­ars have assert­ed that recent decades have wit­nessed the “finan­cial­iza­tion” of the uni­ver­si­ty and that the university’s assim­i­la­tion of cor­po­rate ideals has fun­da­men­tal­ly altered edu­ca­tion. [vii] The past two decades have also seen the advent and ascen­sion of social media. Can col­lege no longer make itself a “world apart” in this dig­i­tal envi­ron­ment? Or, are the sto­ries we tell about col­lege chang­ing to reflect a real­i­ty that has always exist­ed? Was my fan­ta­sy of col­lege trans­for­ma­tion only ever fan­ta­sy, the prod­uct of some amount of priv­i­lege and blind­ness? I’ll admit there is nos­tal­gia moti­vat­ing me in this pur­suit, some impre­cise sense that things used to be bet­ter in some way. Like most nos­tal­gia, the real­i­ty turns out to be more com­plex than the con­tours of my fuzzy, sepia-toned mem­o­ries would lead me to believe.

In the Unit­ed States, sto­ries about col­lege life began to be told in the 1830s, and they gained pop­u­lar­i­ty as the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry wore on. Per­haps what is most sur­pris­ing about the pop­u­lar­i­ty of such sto­ries is that it out­paced the actu­al pop­u­lar­i­ty of col­lege itself. By 1900, only about 4 per­cent of the school-age pop­u­la­tion attend­ed col­lege. [viii] At the same time, the sub­ject of the col­lege man or col­lege girl appeared reg­u­lar­ly in pop­u­lar mag­a­zines, and books about cam­pus life enjoyed healthy sales. Despite the pauci­ty of actu­al col­lege stu­dents in the Unit­ed States in the nine­teenth and ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­turies, the idea of col­lege cir­cu­lat­ed wide­ly and seems to have occu­pied an out­sized role in the way read­ers imag­ined the mat­u­ra­tion of the indi­vid­ual in demo­c­ra­t­ic society.

The ear­li­est of these pub­lished col­lege sto­ries sug­gest that trans­for­ma­tion and growth were cen­tral to the sto­ry of col­lege. The few schol­ars who ana­lyze col­lege fic­tion inevitably refer to sto­ries and books about cam­pus life as bil­dungsro­man, sto­ries of a young person’s devel­op­ment and emer­gence into soci­ety. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1828 nov­el Fan­shawe traces the mat­u­ra­tion of the fic­tion­al Harley Col­lege stu­dents Edward Wal­cott and Fan­shawe as they com­pete with each oth­er over the col­lege president’s young ward Ellen Lang­ton and lat­er res­cue her from kid­nap­ping. Wal­cott and Fan­shawe, one a rather super­fi­cial young man and the oth­er a seri­ous and sick­ly schol­ar, each change, becom­ing thought­ful men of action through their inter­ac­tions with each oth­er. [ix] Still, Fan­shawe offers a rather slight por­trait of its char­ac­ters’ development. 

By the end of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, we can read about more sub­stan­tive col­lege trans­for­ma­tions. The hand­some and care­free title char­ac­ter of Eliz­a­beth Stu­art Phelps’s 1893 nov­el Don­ald Mar­cy “finds every­thing has always come eas­i­ly to him,” until a haz­ing inci­dent gone ter­ri­bly wrong caus­es intro­spec­tion. [x] Before he even under­stands it, Mar­cy begins to see the “edu­cat­ed life” as con­nect­ed to “the hon­or and the pre­cious­ness of all those intan­gi­ble val­ues which come to a man.” [xi] Mar­cy turns away from the cap­i­tal­ism and mate­ri­al­ism of his Wall Street father and the hijinks of his ear­ly col­lege friends, find­ing self-real­iza­tion in study­ing and help­ing oth­ers. Marcy’s matu­ri­ty is due in large part to the influ­ence of his friend­ship with the Smith Col­lege stu­dent Fay, whose for­mi­da­ble intel­lect and accom­plish­ments set a mod­el for him to emulate.

Col­lege women too could expect to leave school with a new sense of self in addi­tion to their iron­i­cal­ly named bachelor’s degrees. In Helen Dawes Brown’s Two Col­lege Girls (1886), the effer­ves­cent, super­fi­cial Rosamund gains a seri­ous­ness of pur­pose through her col­lege expe­ri­ence while her intel­lec­tu­al and prim room­mate Edna emerges as a more com­pas­sion­ate and social­ly adept woman. What Edna trea­sures as the most “real” expe­ri­ence of her life, she states, is “the find­ing out of new ideas—the see­ing of old things in a new light” that has tran­spired in col­lege. [xii] Speak­ing at com­mence­ment, Edna’s room­mate Rosamund fond­ly recounts the “colleging”—the pranks, hol­i­days, friend­ships, and schol­ar­ly triumphs—that have led to her own and her fel­low grad­u­ates’ con­sid­er­able per­son­al devel­op­ment. [xiii] For these young women, as for count­less oth­er under­grad­u­ates imag­ined in the col­lege fic­tion of the era, col­lege is a space in which indi­vid­u­als tend to dis­cov­er them­selves, devel­op­ing their nascent tal­ents and strengths and dis­card­ing their care­less behav­iors and poor manners.

In Two Col­lege Girls, Edna and Rosamund’s teach­ers explain that col­lege inevitably leads to trans­for­ma­tion, because it puts stu­dents “in the way of influ­enc­ing each oth­er.” [ivx] Gen­uine friend­ship, forged unex­pect­ed­ly across the social bor­ders of pop­u­lar­i­ty, tem­pera­ment, region­al affil­i­a­tion, and class, pro­vides the cat­a­lyst for most of the col­le­giate trans­for­ma­tion that takes place in col­lege sto­ries. Study­ing mat­ters, but the knowl­edge gained from expe­ri­ence, and in par­tic­u­lar the expe­ri­ence of oth­ers, mat­ters more.  In seem­ing to bring togeth­er diverse indi­vid­u­als in this way, col­lege has often occu­pied a sym­bol­ic place in U.S. cul­ture. It stands as a par­tic­u­lar­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tion, a mer­i­toc­ra­cy in which indi­vid­u­als pur­sue achieve­ment on a lev­el play­ing field and gain valu­able train­ing as cit­i­zens. As the cul­tured Mon­sieur Dar­cy informs the young Armory Blaine in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920 col­lege nov­el This Side of Par­adise, “democ­ra­cy” is some­thing he will “find plen­ty of … in col­lege.” [xv]

How­ev­er, the few schol­ar­ly stud­ies of col­lege fic­tion that have been pub­lished sug­gest that our ideals of col­lege democ­ra­cy and the trans­for­ma­tion it engen­ders have only ever been myth. Exam­in­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions of friend­ship in post­bel­lum U.S. col­lege fic­tion, Travis M. Fos­ter con­cludes that the affec­tion­ate bonds depict­ed in these nov­els exist to con­sol­i­date white suprema­cy and to mend sec­tion­al ten­sions in the wake of nation­al divi­sion. Reach­ing sim­i­lar con­clu­sions, Christo­pher Find­eisen explores issues of class addressed in col­lege fic­tion, show­ing how col­lege has always been imag­ined as a space for the upper class to play and devel­op. What has changed over time, Find­eisen asserts, is that col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties have “evolved to become insti­tu­tions that pro­duced eco­nom­ic dif­fer­ences rather than insti­tu­tions that mere­ly reflect­ed them” [xvi] Both schol­ars have illu­mi­nat­ed the func­tion of not only the uni­ver­si­ty but also col­lege fic­tion in pro­duc­ing and repro­duc­ing an Amer­i­can elite. As our sto­ries about col­lege empha­size indi­vid­ual trans­for­ma­tion and achieve­ment, they direct atten­tion away from what yet remains vis­i­ble, that “the uni­ver­si­ty is large­ly a site for the upper class to com­pete with itself in games that have essen­tial­ly no eco­nom­ic mean­ing because their out­comes are more or less assured.” [xvii] Trans­for­ma­tion, or at least the illu­sion of trans­for­ma­tion, is a mark of privilege.

As Fos­ter notes, some voic­es ques­tioned the sto­ry of col­lege even as it was being writ­ten. In the short sto­ry “Of the Com­ing of John,” W. E. B. Du Bois writes of a young man from Altama­ha, Geor­gia, who departs for col­lege as the great pride of his rur­al black com­mu­ni­ty. At the Wells Insti­tute, John grows “in body and soul”; he gains “dig­ni­ty” and “thought­ful­ness.” [xvi­ii] His pro­fes­sor remarks, “all the world toward which he strove was of his own build­ing, and he build­ed slow and hard.” [ixx] Drawn away from home into a “world of thought,” John dis­cov­ers him­self and utter­ly trans­forms at college—in man­ner, per­spec­tive, skill, and under­stand­ing. [xx] How­ev­er, when John returns home to south­east­ern Geor­gia, he finds his intel­lec­tu­al and per­son­al growth have put him at odds with his fam­i­ly and com­mu­ni­ty, and, worse, they have pro­voked the town’s anx­ious white com­mu­ni­ty. Anoth­er John, the white son of the town’s judge, has also returned from col­lege. When this white John attempts to assault John’s sis­ter, John kills him and is lynched by a white mob. In Du Bois’s hands, we see the sto­ry of col­lege masks the sto­ry of sys­temic racism and pow­er. Nei­ther John trans­forms. The white John does not want to nor does he need to; the world is designed for him. The black John is not per­mit­ted such transformation.

The sto­ry of col­lege that Du Bois tells here has been told again and again in African Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture. A beau­ti­ful world of learn­ing pro­vides an oasis and a path to achieve­ment and uplift. This place promis­es the improve­ment of the indi­vid­ual, promis­es that here the indi­vid­ual can be remade and in turn can remake the world. Yet, this promise proves illu­so­ry. From Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood (1903–4) to Nel­la Larsen’s Quick­sand (1928) to Ralph Ellison’s Invis­i­ble Man (1947), col­lege becomes vis­i­ble as a space that exists not for indi­vid­ual trans­for­ma­tion but for the repro­duc­tion of the sta­tus quo. 

The sto­ry of col­lege as trans­for­ma­tion meets this cri­tique of col­lege in “Boys Go to Jupiter.” Claire’s fan­ta­sy of rein­ven­tion at Den­nis Col­lege is man­i­fest­ly symp­to­matic of the white priv­i­lege Du Bois expos­es as tac­it­ly under­pin­ning assump­tions about high­er education’s trans­for­ma­tive poten­tial. Like “Of the Com­ing of John,” Evans’s sto­ry expos­es the fan­ta­sy of trans­for­ma­tion by jux­ta­pos­ing the inter­twined fates of its black and white char­ac­ters. As the con­se­quences of Claire’s unthink­ing mis­take unfold, flash­backs inform the read­er of a dark­er, more inti­mate sto­ry of race and racism, the sto­ry of Claire’s best friend­ship with Angela Hall. After Claire and Angela meet as six-year-old neigh­bors, the girls are insep­a­ra­ble, shar­ing a spe­cial affec­tion as they taunt Angela’s broth­er Aaron with the non­sense rhyme, “girls go to col­lege to get more knowl­edge, boys go to Jupiter to get more stu­pid­er” (643). The girls grow into ado­les­cents togeth­er and even endure their moth­ers’ respec­tive can­cers togeth­er. Claire plans that they will some­day “go to col­lege togeth­er,” where “the world will unrav­el for them, fall at their feet.” [xxi] Only Claire’s mother’s death and Angela’s mother’s recov­ery sev­ers the girls’ bond. And race, Angela’s black­ness, is only ever inci­den­tal. That is, inci­den­tal to Claire.

If the girls’ shared expe­ri­ence of their moth­ers’ ill­ness­es seems like evi­dence of the kind of uni­ver­sal expe­ri­ence and human con­nec­tion that under­lies some appeals to build­ing a post-racial U.S. soci­ety, fur­ther tragedy under­scores how unre­al­is­tic such a vision remains. One year after Claire’s mom’s death, Aaron dri­ves a drunk, griev­ing Claire home from a par­ty and is killed when a pack of white teenage boys run him off the road. The boys, who imag­ine they are res­cu­ing Claire from this young black man she has known all her life, are found not respon­si­ble, and Aaron’s death is ruled an acci­dent, though the Hall fam­i­ly under­stands the events through dif­fer­ent terms. As Aaron’s fate makes clear, even in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry and even among edu­cat­ed and priv­i­leged sub­ur­ban neigh­bors, not every­one can expect the world to fall at her feet.

As a child, Aaron points out the log­i­cal fal­la­cy of the girls’ rhyme. It doesn’t make sense that boys would go to Jupiter to get “more stu­pid­er,” Aaron quite ratio­nal­ly explains, since, in order to reach Jupiter, one would have to be incred­i­bly intel­li­gent.  Evans’s sto­ry seems to sug­gest that it is no more sen­si­ble to believe that “col­lege” is the place to get “more knowl­edge.” This is the stuff of child’s games. 

After I lis­tened to Evans read this sto­ry before an audi­ence of alter­nate­ly eager, anx­ious, and bored under­grad­u­ates in the rich­ly wood-pan­eled audi­to­ri­um of our col­lege library, I felt dis­heart­ened. This sto­ry is about the end of col­lege, I thought. There is no rein­ven­tion, no trans­for­ma­tion, only sta­sis and spin. The nar­ra­tive that the cam­pus is fix­at­ed on, whether one young woman’s stu­pid choice to wear a hate­ful sym­bol should be con­demned as racist or cel­e­brat­ed for its self-expres­sion of south­ern “her­itage,” is not even the real sto­ry here.  Nei­ther of these inter­pre­ta­tions of Claire is true, exact­ly. The deep­er sto­ry of Claire’s rela­tion­ship to Angela and Aaron caus­es us to ask com­plex questions—what cul­pa­bil­i­ty does Claire have for what hap­pens to Aaron? Is she a dif­fer­ent kind of vic­tim, one of the racist and sex­ist ide­ol­o­gy that imag­ines her as the white woman ever vul­ner­a­ble to the preda­to­ry black male? Is igno­rance as bad as racism? How can love and racism coexist?—that are only flat­tened in this cam­pus envi­ron­ment. Den­nis Col­lege is not a world apart in which the free­dom of expe­ri­ence and the pur­suit of knowl­edge lead to rein­ven­tion and per­son­al growth. But for all the ways that Evans’s sto­ry sig­nals the end of the sto­ry of col­lege, it sug­gests that there might be anoth­er sto­ry to tell. 

In an arti­cle pub­lished in The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion in May 2018, Lisi Schoen­bach cau­tions read­ers against engag­ing in too spir­it­ed a cri­tique of the uni­ver­si­ty, lest we under­mine the cred­i­bil­i­ty of an insti­tu­tion we need now more than ever. Schoen­bach writes, “it can be true that the uni­ver­si­ty is impli­cat­ed in neolib­er­al­ism while also being true that uni­ver­si­ties are often the defend­ers of free speech, anti-instru­men­tal­i­ty, and dis­sent.” [xxii] Maybe col­lege is not and has nev­er been tru­ly a space of trans­for­ma­tion, but it can be a space of reck­on­ing, at least of a kind. Col­lege can be a space in which sys­temic injus­tice and the myths that ease its func­tion­ing are observed and named. It can be a space of dia­logue, con­fronta­tion, and expres­sion. In our cur­rent world, col­lege may be the only space where this is possible.

The col­lege town hall event that con­cludes Evans’s sto­ry is not an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pose dif­fi­cult ques­tions. Still, in this space, even as Claire’s sto­ry is mis­un­der­stood, we see an exchange of per­spec­tives, and we see Claire begin to become aware of her priv­i­leged place in the world. One white stu­dent stands at the micro­phone and offers an apol­o­gy for racism, anoth­er recites the song “Sweet Home Alaba­ma,” though no one can tell whether this per­for­mance is an earnest endorse­ment or a cri­tique of the song’s glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of the U.S. South. Claire watch­es as var­i­ous speakers—all white—file on to and off of the stage. Car­men, the hall mate who first tweet­ed her out­rage at Claire’s biki­ni pho­to, sits in the audi­ence, “sur­round­ed by two full rows of black stu­dents, more black peo­ple than Claire has ever seen on cam­pus before—maybe, it occurs to her, more black peo­ple than Claire has ever seen at once in her life.” The group sits silent­ly. They wait. Even­tu­al­ly, after the stage has been emp­ty for ten min­utes, the black stu­dents stand and leave the room, inten­tion­al­ly, one at a time. No one has spo­ken, but it would be wrong to say that these stu­dents have not made them­selves heard. At the end, Claire finds her­self unable to resist the deaf­en­ing qui­et. She approach­es the micro­phone, as Evans tells us, still telling her­self that rein­ven­tion and trans­for­ma­tion remain pos­si­ble. We know this is the wrong sto­ry for Claire to tell her­self, but we can also see that col­lege has pre­cip­i­tat­ed some self-aware­ness, how­ev­er mod­est, for Claire. When it “occurs to her” that she has come face to face with “more black peo­ple than” she “has ever seen at once,” Claire has been brought to account in some small way. Evans also sug­gests here that Claire’s is not the only sto­ry of col­lege that war­rants telling. In their per­for­mance of pur­pose­ful silence, Car­men and her fel­low black stu­dents not only call into ques­tion the sto­ries that many of us have per­sist­ed in telling our­selves about col­lege. They also inti­mate the exis­tence of oth­er col­lege sto­ries that still remain to be told.


[i] Danielle Evans, “Boys Go to Jupiter,” Sewa­nee Review (Fall 2017), 646.
[ii] Evans, 661.
[iii] Shirley Mar­chalo­nis, Col­lege Girls: A Cen­tu­ry in Fic­tion (Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1995), 25.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Ibid.
[vi] Owen John­son, Stover at Yale (Fred­er­ick A. Stokes, 1912), 5.
[vii] Ste­fan Colli­ni, Speak­ing of Uni­ver­si­ties (Ver­so, 2017). 
[viii] Col­in B. Burke, Amer­i­can Col­le­giate Pop­u­la­tions: A Test of the Tra­di­tion­al View (New York Univ. Press, 1982), 55.
[ix] It is worth not­ing that Hawthorne was so embar­rassed of this book, his first nov­el, that he lat­er attempt­ed to buy up all the exist­ing copies and burn them.
[x] Eliz­a­beth Stu­art Phelps, Don­ald Mar­cy (Houghton, Mif­flin and Com­pa­ny, 1983), 64.
[xi] Ibid., 72.
[xii] Helen Dawes Brown, Two Col­lege Girls (Houghton, Mif­flin and Com­pa­ny, 1886), 144.
[xiii] Ibid., 314.
[xiv] Ibid., 112.
[xv] F. Scott Fitzger­ald, This Side of Par­adise (Scrib­n­er, 1920), 32.
[xvi] Christo­pher Find­eisen, “‘The One Place Where Mon­ey Makes No Dif­fer­ence’: The Cam­pus Nov­el from Stover at Yale through The Art of Field­ing,” Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture 88. 1 (March 2016), 77.
[xvii] Ibid., 82.
[xvi­ii] W. E. B. Du Bois, “Of the Com­ing of John,” The Souls of Black Folk (1903; Barnes and Noble Clas­sics, 2003), 166.
[xix] Ibid., 163.
[xx] Ibid., 163.
[xxi] Evans, 648.
[xxii] Lisi Schoen­bach, “Enough with the Cri­sis Talk!: To Sal­vage the Uni­ver­si­ty, Explain Why It’s Worth Sav­ing,” The Chron­i­cle of High­er Edu­ca­tion (16 May 2018).


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Mol­ly K. Robey is an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at Illi­nois Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty. She has pub­lished arti­cles in Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, Lega­cy, Stud­ies in Amer­i­can Fic­tion, and Tul­sa Stud­ies in Women’s Lit­er­a­ture. Most recent­ly, she has been research­ing the ori­gins of the Col­lege Girl in U.S. culture.