Fall 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course is an advanced survey of U.S. intellectual and cultural history from the Civil War to the present. As a survey, it is dedicated to introducing students to the main contours of American thought and some of the canonical thinkers and documents of American intellectual history. Its larger purpose, however, is to get students to think about ideas historically. This will be accomplished through the reading of primary sources in association with historical contexts and cultural artifacts. The purpose of this course is synthetic and analytical. It asks students to confront modes of thought both familiar and unfamiliar, and to use their imaginations to construct a larger picture how Americans have described conditions and justified actions. Students will learn how to think historically about ideas and the documents and artifacts in which those ideas are contained. Some of the main substantive themes we will be exploring in the course of the semester include: the conflict between religion and science in the wake of Darwin; the role and meaning of scientific thinking in American culture; the rise of social science; the aesthetic and anthropological meanings of the culture concept; the meaning of modernity and modernism; philosophical pragmatism and its implications; racial and gender ideologies; the problem of freedom and determinism; moral and cultural relativisms; and the character and justification of dissent.
David Hollinger and Charles Capper, The American Intellectual Tradition, Volume II 1865 to the Present, 6th Edition. (ISBN: 978-0-19-539293-7) Please note: you must use the 6th edition to include all relevant readings. All scheduled assigned readings will come from this volume unless otherwise noted
The Varieties of Religious Experience William James; Abridged with an Introduction by Robert H. Abzug Bedford Series in History and Culture) ISBN-13: 9780312488307. This is an abridged version. This is also the edition that must be used.
Ruth Benedict, The Patterns of Culture. Mariner. 978-0618619559
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
First-year students require faculty permission.