AMS 315 • 20th Century Intellectuals and American Society-W
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
Originating in France just before the turn of the 20th century, the term intellectual referred to one who was both publicly politically active and learned. While intellectuals in France have continued in this tradition, engaging in public debate in the popular press, those referred to as intellectuals in America have played many roles, ranging from political activist to alienated artists. In this course, we will explore some of these roles and their social implications. Approaching the material both chronologically and thematically, we will consider one facet of intellectual life in each time period. Topics we will cover include the bohemians, the Lost Generation, Communist writers and fellow travelers, the growth and development of universities over the century, intellectuals as highbrows, intellectuals in government, and American anti-intellectualism. Along the way, I will introduce contrasting models of intellectualism, such as those posed by Marx, Gramsci, Weber, Chomsky and Said. The last third of the class will be devoted to American culture since 1990, examining current modes of public discourse and what place intellectuals have in it.
Anti-intellectualism in American Life, Richard Hofstadter The Last Intellectuals, Russell Jacoby Sound and Fury: the Making of the Punditocracy, Eric Alterman Several additional readings in a packet