Mid-20th Century U.S. Intellectual History

History 285D.001

Fall 2005
202 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
Tu 2-4

This graduate research seminar is devoted to the study of the United States during the quarter-century running from the end of the 1930s through the beginning of the 1960s. Although the instructor will try to accommodate students whose interests run more in the direction of political than intellectual history, the seminar's intended concentration will be on intellectual activity, especially as taking place in one or more of the following closely related matrices: 1) the
engagement with societies and cultures outside the North Atlantic West prompted by World War
II, by the geo-political rivalry with Soviet power, and by the decline of the European colonial empires; 2) liberal Protestantism as a half-way house between Christian orthodoxy and secular world-views; 3) the tension between the cognitive authority of science and the political authority of governmental institutions; 4) the transformation of Jewish intellectuals from an institutionally excluded identity group to one demographically overrepresented in American academia; 5) the initiatives and counter-initiatives surrounding Catholicism in relation to fascism, democracy, pluralism, and anti-communism; and 6) the military experience of World War II, producing one of the only two generations of American intellectuals -- the other being that of the Civil War veterans -- with significant military experience. Students may select topics outside these matrices if they choose, but will be encouraged to work within the seminar's chronological frame (roughly 1938 to 1963).