The Worlds of American Intellectual History

ISBN : 9780190459468

Joel Isaac; Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen; James T. Kloppenberg; Michael O'Brien
408 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Jan 2017
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The essays in this book demonstrate the breadth and vitality of American intellectual history. Their core theme is the diversity of both American intellectual life and of the frameworks that we must use to make sense of that diversity. The Worlds of American Intellectual History has at its heart studies of American thinkers. Yet it follows these thinkers and their ideas as they have crossed national, institutional, and intellectual boundaries. The volume explores ways in which American ideas have circulated in different cultures. It also examines the multiple sites-from social movements, museums, and courtrooms to popular and scholarly books and periodicals-in which people have articulated and deployed ideas within and beyond the borders of the United States. At these cultural frontiers, the authors demonstrate, multiple interactions have occurred - some friendly and mutually enriching, others laden with tension, misunderstandings, and conflict. The same holds for other kinds of borders, such as those within and between scholarly disciplines, or between American history and the histories of other cultures. The richness of contemporary American intellectual history springs from the variety of worlds with which it must engage. Intellectual historians have always relished being able to move back and forth between close readings of particular texts and efforts to make sense of broader cultural dispositions. That range is on display in this volume, which includes essays by scholars as fully at home in the disciplines of philosophy, literature, economics, sociology, political science, education, science, religion, and law as they are in history. It includes essays by prominent historians of European thought, attuned to the transatlantic conversations in which Europeans and Americans have been engaged since the seventeenth century, and American historians whose work has carried them not only to different regions in North America but across the North Atlantic to Europe, across the South Atlantic to Africa, and across the Pacific to South Asia.


Introduction: Opening American Thought
James T. Kloppenberg

Part One: Frames
1. What was the American Enlightenment?
Caroline Winterer
2. The Woman Question in the Age of Mass Democracy: From Movement History to Problem History
Leslie Butler
3. We People of Color: Colored Cosmopolitanism and the Borders of Race
Nico Slate
4. Curating the Black Atlantic
Jonathan Holloway

Part Two: Justice
5. The Sins of Slaves and the Slaves of Sin: Toward a History of Moral Agency
Margaret Abruzzo
6. Nationalism and Cosmopolitan Humanity in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political Science
Duncan Kelly
7. The Political Origins of Global Justice
Samuel Moyn

Part Three: Philosophy
8. Unstiffening Theory: The Italian Magic Pragmatists and William James
Francesca Bordogna
9. The Longing for Wisdom in Twentieth-Century US Thought
Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
10. Pain, Analytical Philosophy, and American Intellectual History
Joel Isaac
11. On Lying: Writing Philosophical History after the Enlightenment and after Arendt
Sophia Rosenfeld

Part Four: Secularization
12. Science and Religion in Postwar America
Andrew Jewett
13. Religion within the Bounds of Democracy Alone: Habermas, Rawls, and the Trans-Atlantic Debate over Public Reason
Peter Gordon
14. Christianity and Its American Fate: Where History Interrogates Secularization Theory
David Hollinger

Part Five: Method
15. Paths in the Social History of Ideas
Daniel T. Rodgers
16. Toward a Free-Range Intellectual History
Sarah Igo
17. New Directions, Then and Now
Angus Burgin

Michael O'Brien

About the author: 

Joel Isaac teaches the history of political thought and American intellectual history in the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge. His current research focuses on the relations between politics and economics in twentieth-century British and American thought.; James Kloppenberg is Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University, , where he teaches European and American intellectual history. He wrote several books on transatlantic politics and ideas from the 16th century to the present, including Toward Democracy: The Struggle for Self-Rule in European and American Thought.; Michael O'Brien taught American intellectual and cultural history at the University of Cambridge. His research focused, in particular, on the intellectual history of the American South.; Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is Merle Curti Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on 19th- and 20th-century US thought and culture in transatlantic perspective.

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