The Basis of Belief
A Century of Drama and Debate at
the University of Minnesota

Steven Keillor

ISBN: 978-1-880654-40-8
Order Number: PP408
Price: $15.95

The Basis of Belief tells the story of the University of Minnesota's unofficial educational agenda. Steven Keillor considers selected controversies that have been energetically debated by educators, administrators, and students for over a century at the University. Keillor describes the clash between an experimental, scientific basis for knowledge and a reliance on testimony, as in stories and first-hand accounts. Which means of obtaining knowledge was best? Which direction should a university take in influencing and promoting one or the other?

These arguments concern the place in the University curriculum and student life of such matters as science, religion, psychology, literature, evolution, American Studies, academic freedom, and loyalty, as well as less scholarly activities, such as student protests and strikes. Keillor carefully draws upon diaries, letters, published accounts, and interviews to assess how religion affected these subjects in academic life.

Steven J. Keillor offers us a series of stories that provide interesting portraits revealing how the role of religion has changed dramatically over the course of the history at one state university. Much of what he does documents long-forgotten episodes and issues that will be fascinating and illuminating to those who are familiar with the University of Minnesota, or any state university, today.
-George Marsden, Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame

About the Author
A lifelong resident of the state, Steven J. Keillor earned his PhD in History at the University of Minnesota. He has written biographies of two Minnesota governors-one of a Republican (Knute Nelson) and one of a Farmer-Laborite and DFLer (Hjalmar Petersen). The Minnesota Historical Society published his history of the state's rural cooperatives, as well as a memoir of a First-Minnesota soldier in the Civil War that he edited. He has also written about the Grand Excursion of 1854 and the history of the city of Rochester. He teaches Minnesota history at Bethel University in St. Paul. Keillor has three children and two grandchildren, and he resides with his wife Margaret in Askov, Minnesota. Visit Steven Keillor's Web site at

304 pages, 2008, 6" x 9", paperbound

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