HIST 353
Controversies in American Thought Fall 2021
Division II

Class Details

This course will explore some of the most explosive controversies to shape modern America — from debates over Darwinism to the so-called ‘culture wars’ — through the lens of intellectual history. Students will examine how the emergence of new ideas about science, capitalism, democracy, race, and gender have fueled divisive conflict in the United States since the mid-19th century. In the process, they will wrestle with invigorating intellectual critiques of American life, while thinking historically about the transformative power of ideas, both academic and popular. The course will cover debates over such topics as: the purpose of higher education; eugenics and evolutionary theory; ‘madness’ and femininity; the nature of truth; social democracy and modern capitalism; immigration and nationalism; racial identity and inequality; and the state of intellectual life today.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 20
Class#: 1639
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Participation in group discussion; five informal response papers (350-450 words); two short essays (4-6 pp); final paper (8-10 pp).
Prerequisites: None, open to all students.
Enrollment Preferences: History majors, and students with a demonstrated interest in the history of American thought.
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: HIST Group F Electives - U.S. + Canada

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