The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History

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Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2019-02-04
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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Summary

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. The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History 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.

Author Biography


Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is Merle Curti Associate Professor of History and Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches U.S. intellectual and cultural history. She is the author of the prize-wining American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas (2012). Her co-edited volumes include Protest on the Page: Essays on Print and the Cultures of Dissent (2015) with James Danky and the late James Baughman, and The Worlds of American Intellectual History (2016) with Joel Isaac, James Kloppenberg, and the late Michael O'Brien. Her next book project is a history of wisdom in 20th-century American thought and culture.

Table of Contents


Introduction
Chapter 1: World of Empires (Precontact-1740)
Chapter 2: America and the Transatlantic Enlightenment (1740-1800)
Chapter 3: From Republican to Romantic (1800-1850)
Chapter 4: Contests of Intellectual Authority (1850-1890)
Chapter 5: Fin-de-si├Ęcle Revolts against Absolutes (1890-1920)
Chapter 6: Roots and Rootlessness from the First World War
to the Second (1920-45)
Chapter 7: The Opening of the American Mind (1945-1970)
Chapter 8: The End of Universalism (1962-1990s)
Epilogue: Rethinking Cosmopolitanism in an Age of Globalization
Notes
Index

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