On behalf of all the writers and readers of the U.S. Intellectual History blog, as well as the members and friends of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, we wish to congratulate Daniel T. Rodgers, who was recently named as one of three winners of the 2012 Bancroft Prize.
We knew that Age of Fracture was an Important Book. Andrew Hartman made that call for the USIH blog on January 4, 2011. He wrote, “A new book by Daniel Rodgers, The Age of Fracture, which I predict will be the most talked about work of intellectual history since Louis Menand’s Metaphysical Club, implies that Marx’s thesis is a pretty good explanation for our postmodern condition.”
What Daniel Rodgers’s book implies became a subject of repeated inquiry and rigorous debate here on the blog and in the intellectual history blogosphere generally. Andrew launched the discussion of Age of Fracture with a response to Lisa Szefel’s review of Rodgers’s book (History News Network), and followed his invocation of Szefel’s critique with some reflections of his own (“The Culture Wars: Notes Towards a Working Definition”). Fellow blog authors Ben Alpers (“Pulling a Thread: How Should Intellectual Historians Deal with Erroneous, Foolish, or Vicious Thought?” ), Tim Lacy (“Who’s In? The Hierarchy of Intellectuals”), Ray Haberski (“What Fractured?”), David Sehat (“Intellectual History and the Age of Fracture, Part I”) and Mike O’Connor (“more on ‘Age of Fracture'”) picked up the discussion and carried it forward, backward, and sideways, with the enthusiastic participation of commenters known and unknown.*
Indeed, in a marvelous bit of mimesis, Daniel Rodgers and his brilliant book spread across the USIH cosmos (on this blog and well beyond it) like the very contagion of metaphors he so brilliantly, thickly and deftly described.
A highlight of the fourth annual USIH conference (the first to be held under the auspices of the newly organized S-USIH) was an entire session devoted to discussing Rodgers’s Age of Fracture. Ben Alpers chaired the roundtable; Andrew Hartman, James Livingston, Lisa Szefel, and Mary Dudziak offered careful, critical reviews of the work. Daniel Rodgers responded thoughtfully to these thoughtful interlocutors, and answered questions from the audience — though, as is only fitting for such a thought-provoking book, his cryptic, coy replies may have raised more questions than they answered.
Beyond question, though, is the breathtaking brilliance of Age of Fracture. Daniel Rodgers managed to frame the epistemic frame of an age in such a way that others are able to glimpse its contours, even as we stand within it. That is no small feat, and this is no small book.
We are all delighted that Daniel Rodgers has been honored for this remarkable work.
*I have provided links to just a few of more than a score of posts on this blog labeled with the keywords “Age of Fracture” or “Daniel Rodgers.” There are many more posts where Rodgers, his book, and his ideas are the subject of discussion in the text and the comments.