Shimer College

Albert Bades Fernandez

Like everyone at Shimer, I have a lot of different interests. My doctorate is in comparative literature, from Columbia University, but my studies were focused on the cultural history of the 20th century—on the nature and meaning of modernity, to put it another way. And I’m about equally interested in the history and philosophy of education, and in contemporary higher education issues. I’ve published on both of these main interests and have served on the Faculty Advisory Council of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. As for my presumably colorful background, I was born in Madrid, Spain, grew up mostly in New York City, and in my youth I pursued adventure and outdoor sports.


Professor Emeritus of Cultural History and Humanities

In Brief

The New York Times once ran a story on me, not far from a picture of Henry Kissinger, after I had to be rescued during a mountaineering trip.

Why Shimer?

At Shimer detachment from either the class discussions or the life of the community is difficult. I think this makes Shimer College an intellectually and psychologically demanding school, a tough school, a great school


Ph.D., Comparative Literature
Columbia University, 1982

M. Phil., English and Comparative Literature
Columbia University, 1974

M.A., English and Comparative Literature, high honors
Columbia University, 1971


Research Interests


Higher education


Other Interests

Everything else

Research Activity

“The Almighty Facts” The Common Review,  Winter 2007.  For a more extensive critique of Hirsch’s “The Knowledge Deficit,” please click here. “Don Quijote Turns 400” Great Books Foundation, Chicago April 22, 2005. “Cultural Literacy and Discussion-Centered Pedagogy: A Critique of E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need” Midwest Modern Language Association Convention, Chicago, November 7, 2003. “Deconstruction: A Primer” Shimer College Public Lecture Series, May 10, 2002. “The Hutchins College Is Alive and Well in Waukegan” University of Chicago Alumni Reunion, June 3, 2000. “Etched in Stone? The Great Books and the Theories of Greatness.” Centennial Symposium On the Fate of Liberal Education. University of Chicago, 10 Feb. 1992. Panel on the state of the humanities core curriculum. University of Chicago Alumni Association. University of Chicago, 11 June 1992. “The Dead Author’ and the Revived Artist: Ortega’s Search for Velazquez.” Language and Thought Workshop Public Lecture. University of Chicago, 22 May 1991. “Productivity Fetishism: The Tenure System and Undergraduate Teaching.” The Flat Hat 31 Aug. 1990:3. “The Two Nauseas: Unveiling Existence and Covering Up Freedom.” Twentieth-Century Literature Conference. University of Louisville, 22-24 Feb. 1990. José Ortega y Gasset. in European Writers:The Twentieth Century Ed. George Stade. Vol. 9. New York: Scribners, 1989.

Awards and Honors

Mellon Instructorship in English and Humanities.

University of Chicago, 1990-93.


Senior Class Teaching Award.

College of William and Mary, 1990.


Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Comparative Literature,

Cornell University, 1984-86.