Spring 2012 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course provides a comprehensive look at American thought and culture from the end of the1860s to modern times. A variety of questions will be explored as we read primary texts from the period and secondary literature in the field of intellectual history.
The term “intellectual” will be broadly defined to include philosophers, historians, religious thinkers, psychologists, sociologists, cultural anthropologists, and other authors who have contributed to the nation’s intellectual life since the end of the Civil War. The course will examine the challenges posed by Darwinism to the realms of science, theology, education, and social thought. These challenges will be discussed with a focus on the pragmatist thought of Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, who responded to the most important social, cultural, and political developments in American history up until the Cold War.
We will explore the ideological aspects of culture wars, postmodernism, and social activism in the context of the post WWII historical developments. Several interrelated themes structure this course: the changing relationship between religious and scientific components of culture; the evolution of thinking about democracy and political power; and the recurrent human quest for security and social justice. The assigned readings will include texts by and about William James, Jane Addams, John Dewey, Ruth Benedict, Thomas Kuhn, Martin Luther King, Erich Fromm, Daniel Bell, Richard Rorty, and Clifford Geertz.
(Subject to Revision)
David Hollinger and Charles Capper eds., The American Intellectual Tradition, Vol. II, 6th edition, Oxford University Press
Wilfred McClay, The Masterless, University of North Carolina Press
Robert Westbrook, John Dewey and American Democracy, Cornell University Press
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Two papers, both based on course readings; presentations of source responses; in-class quizzes; participation in class discussion.