U.S. Intellectual History Blog

6 Thoughts on this Post

  1. I read both volumes of the new edition cover to cover a student in the IH survey last year. There may be holes — there must be, for no anthology can include everyone and everything — but I have to believe Hollinger and Capper are the best thing out there. An alternative that students might greatly appreciate because of cost would be to assign public domain readings from Gutenberg Project or Google Books.

    However, one value of H&C is the introductory material for each period/author and the (limited) bibliographic suggestions. Another value is simply its wide standardization as a text. A student who buys this book is purchasing something that could prove useful as a reference point / starting point for further research throughout his / her entire academic career. And since far more people in academe have been required to purchase H&C than plan to keep it, there are used copies available. I, an American intellectual historian of recent vintage but committed vision, plan to keep mine.

    I should mention that in addition to H&C, we also read for each period in question monographs, or selections therefrom, that are considered (rightly, it seems to me) essential/definitive/important in their interpretation of the era of thought in question. In an undergrad seminar, your lectures would need to do that work. Just H&C is reading enough!

  2. Nils,

    I haven’t taught the Intellectual History survey yet, so I haven’t assigned anything. However, I had been planning on creating a coursepack either online or to be purchased by the students until I realized there was a new, longer version of the American Intellectual Tradition.

    I wouldn’t call the gaps show stopping so much as not hitting my strengths–African American Intellectual History of the 1920s and 1930s. There wasn’t much interwar material and there wasn’t much black material. Also, there wasn’t a lot of the material that my prof in intellectual history had taught in his survey, which is the primary pattern for mine (even though he was a student of Hollinger’s). I’m curious to see what the new version is like (I couldn’t find a table of contents online in my preliminary search).

  3. In a word, yes. I’ve used it for years in my American Social Thought honors course (this is now the 3rd edition I’ve used). Nothing is perfect, of course, but H&C is very, very good. In fact over the years I’ve used fewer and fewer materials in addition to H&C in this course. Last spring, for the first time, 100% of the readings in my course came from H&C. It really is a superb collection.

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