U.S. Intellectual History, 1865-1980

History 103D.009

Fall 2007
Instructor (text): 
332 Giannini
Day & Time: 
Fri 10-12
Daniel Immerwahr is a fourth-year Ph.D. student specializing in intellectual history, international history, and the history of capitalism.

This course traces the history of the United States since the Civil War through its ideas. How have intellectuals understood, reacted to, or encouraged such developments as the growth of the corporation, imperialism, Jim Crow segregation, the wars of the twentieth century, the United States' rise to global prominence, the consumer revolution, the social movements of the 1960s, and the conservative backlash in the 1980s? The answers to such questions will be explored through two activities. First, students will read a blend of primary and secondary sources and discuss them in class. Second, they will engage in a number of explorations of individually-chosen primary sources from the period and write short memos explaining how those sources fit into the broader patterns of U.S. history.

The assigned reading will include texts by and about such prominent U.S. intellectuals as William James, Thorstein Veblen, W. E. B. Du Bois, John Dewey, Franz Boas, C. Wright Mills, and T. S. Kuhn and on such classic topics as pragmatism, Darwinism, science, political economy, the rise of academic disciplines, race, culture, and democracy. Through their individual work, however, students will also be encouraged to investigate the more eclectic and minor aspects of intellectual history--science fiction, pedagogy, mathematics, environmentalism, jazz, legal theory, etc.

Students who have taken History 132B before or concurrently with this class will no doubt benefit from it, but 132B is not a prerequisite. Students who plan to take a 101 after this course will be asked to prepare a short, nonbinding pre-prospectus. Course requirements: weekly reading; weekly paragraph-length reading responses; short, informal, biweekly memos discussing outside reading; and a final paper (5-6 pages) or pre-prospectus. Note: this course will feature a fair amount of work, but the work will be evenly spaced throughout the semester.