U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Teaching Intellectual History in the U.S. History Survey (follow-up)

A few weeks ago, I posted about my plans to assign selected readings from Hollinger and Capper’s The American Intellectual Tradition: Volume II: 1865 to the Present. My syllabus is now complete. Below are the texts I am assigning from Hollinger-Capper, with the corresponding weekly topic. (Notes: The course meets once per week, for three hours. Students read primary texts most weeks, but not every week. In addition to these primary source readings, the students are assigned to read Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty: An American History, and Melton A. McLaurin, Celia, A Slave.)

From Reconstruction to Jim Crow

W.E.B. DuBois, Selection from The Souls of Black Folk

The Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Jane Addams, “The Subjective Necessity of Social Settlements”

Woodrow Wilson, “The Ideals of America”

William James, “What Pragmatism Means”

Randolphe Bourne, “Trans-National America”

Empire from Cuba to the “Great War”

Frederick Jackson Turner, “Significance of the Frontier in American History”

Randolphe Bourne, “Twilight of Idols”

Roaring Twenties

H.L. Mencken, “Puritanism as a Literary Force”

The Cold War at Home and Abroad

Reinhold Niebuhr, Selection from The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness

George Kennan, Selection from American Diplomacy, 1900-1950

Whittaker Chambers, Selection from Witness

Daniel Bell, “The End of Ideology in the West”

The Civil Rights Movement 

Gunnar Myrdal, Selection from An American Dilemma

James Baldwin, “Many Thousands Gone”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

The Sixties and the Vietnam War

C. Wright Mills, “Letter to the New Left”

Harold Cruse, “Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American”

Betty Friedan, Selection from The Feminine Mystique

Herbert Marcuse, Selection from One-Dimensional Man

Noam Chomsky, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”

The Rise of the Modern Conservative Movement

Milton Friedman, Selection from Capitalism and Freedom

Ayn Rand, “Man’s Rights”

The Culture Wars

Harold John Ockenga, “Resurgent Evangelical Leadership”

Thomas S. Kuhn, Selection from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Edward W. Said, Selection from Orientalism

Nancy J. Chodorow, “Gender, Relation, Difference in Psychoanalytic Perspective”

Richard Rorty, “Science as Solidarity”

Catherin MacKinnon, Selection from Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Selection from Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars

End of the Cold War to the “War on Terror”

Samuel P. Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations”

Obama’s America (For this section, the last meeting of the course, I had to improvise some primary texts, since Hollinger and Capper have not yet updated their anthology to reflect the last five years or so.)

Obama’s 2008 Race Speech: “A More Perfect Union”

Victor Davis Hanson, “Obama’s Racial Politics” 

4 Thoughts on this Post

  1. This is a good list, I have used a lot of these same selections in various classes. I will say that the last time I used Niebuhr the students did not like it at all. One reading I have used several times I don’t see here is “The End of Ideology in the West” which I have used to help explain the idea of privilege and some of the assumptions we make in our foreign policy.

    Good luck with the course!

  2. Thanks for sharing. For the interwar period, I would opt to cover Machine-Age Ideology/High Modernism/Modernization Theory instead of the Roaring Twenties, if I were to tweak the schedule. And I’d substitute Fromm for Marcuse and not simply because he’s far more readable. Best of luck!

    • Thanks, Ed. I’m certainly not attached to “Roaring Twenties” as a theme, it’s just a shorthand–I could just as easily use “The Modern Temper.” Fromm would be fine as a replacement for Marcuse but there are no Fromm selections in the Hollinger-Capper. And in any case, this particular Marcuse passage is fairly readable, at least, as readable as he gets. Cheers.

  3. Andrew, if you want to entertain, shock, delight and educate your Danish victims, next time do Volume I, America up to the Civil War. That’ll stir their Viking souls.

    [Volume II is more numbing than not. Denmark’s already up to its ears in it. You might as well teach them what oxygen is, and how to breathe it.]

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