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American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]
American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]

American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
  • Examines the history of American thought from the pre-contact period to the present day
  • Written by one of the most distinguished intellectual historians of her generation
  • Contains insights into key moments of American intellectual transformation, from the Enlightenment, transcendentalism, and Social Darwinism to progressivism, conservatism, and postmodernism
  • Explores American history by way of ideas, thinkers, and intellectual movements

Long before the United States was a nation, it was a set of ideas, projected onto the New World by European explorers with centuries of belief and thought in tow. From this foundation of expectation and experience, America and American thought grew in turn, enriched by the bounties of the Enlightenment, the philosophies of liberty and individuality, the tenets of religion, and the doctrines of republicanism and democracy. Crucial to this development were the thinkers who nurtured it, from Thomas Jefferson to Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. DuBois to Jane Addams, and Betty Friedan to Richard Rorty. This addition to Oxford's Very Short Introductions series traces how Americans have addressed the issues and events of their time and place, whether the Civil War, the Great Depression, or the culture wars of today.
Spanning a variety of disciplines, from religion, philosophy, and political thought, to cultural criticism, social theory, and the arts, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen shows how ideas have been major forces in American history, driving movements such as transcendentalism, Social Darwinism, conservatism, and postmodernism. In engaging and accessible prose, this introduction to American thought considers how notions about freedom and belonging, the market and morality-and even truth-have commanded generations of Americans and been the cause of fierce debate.



1. World of Empires: Precontact-1740
2. America and the Transatlantic Enlightenment: 1741-1800
3. From Republican to Romantic: 1800-1850
4. Contests of Intellectual Authority: 1850-90
5. Modernist Revolts: 1890-1920
6. Roots and Rootlessness: 1920-45
7. The Opening of the American Mind: 1945-70
8. Against Universalism: 1962-90s

Epilogue: Rethinking America in an Age of Globalization; or, The Conversation Continues

Further Reading

About the author: 

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches US intellectual and cultural history. She is the author of American Nietzsche, which won the American Historical Association's John H. Dunning Prize, the Society for U.S. Intellectual History Book Award, and the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the Best First Book in Intellectual History.

Product details

ISBN : 9780190622435

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
186 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2021
Very Short Introductions
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American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]

American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]

American Intellectual History: A Very Short Introduction [#683]