Accueil > The United States and the World: An Intellectual History

IFCO 2435 - United States and the World: an intellectual history (The)

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies

Pre-requisite

None

Course Description

What are the ideas that have made the United States what it is today? What intellectual traditions, particularly those of Europe and of Native America, has it drawn on? How has this heritage determined its geopolitical role in the contemporary world, while also helping to bring about its present challenges? In this course we will read from a variety of authors and periods, spanning from the early colonial period, through the American Revolution, and into the 19th century, in order to gain a better sense of what the United States through a deepened understanding the ideas that shaped it.

Teachers

  • HERRERA, Joachim-Nicolas (Etudiant)
  • SMITH, Justin (Professeur des universités)

Course validation

One midterm exam (2 hours) One final paper

Required reading

  • D. Graham Burnett, Masters of all they Surveyed: Expoloration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (University of Chicago Press, 2000).
  • Stanley Cavell, This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures After Emerson after Wittgenstein (University of Chicago Press, 1989).
  • Lee Dugatkin, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
  • Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (Penguin Books, 1984).
  • John Kaag, American Philosophy: A Love Story (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Session n°1, 29 January: Native America

  • Required Reading: Roger Williams, A Key into the Language of America (1643).
  • Recommended reading: Scott L. Pratt, Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2002); Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (NYRB Classics, 2017 [1927]).

Session n°2, 5 February: Puritan Radicals

  • Required reading: Roger Williams, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution (1644); Cotton Mather, Biblia Americana (1693-1728); Cotton Mather, The Christian Philosopher (1721).
  • Recommended reading: William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, An American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2002); Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (Penguin Books, 1984).

Session n°3, 12 February: Surveiller et dominer

  • Required reading: Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1785); Thomas Jefferson and Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, Correspondence; Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Journals (1814).
  • Recommended reading: D. Graham Burnett, Masters of all they Surveyed: Expoloration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (University of Chicago Press, 2000); Lee Dugatkin, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America (University of Chicago Press, 2009).

Session n°4, 19 February: Tabula rasa

  • Required reading: The United States Constitution (1787); The Federalist Papers (1788).

Session n°5, 5 March: An innocent abroad

  • Required reading: Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1840).

Sessions n°6, 12 March: Transcendentalism

  • Required reading: Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Divinity School Address" (1838); "Self Reliance" (1841); "The Over-Soul" (1841); Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854).
  • Recommended reading: Stanley Cavell, This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures After Emerson after Wittgenstein (University of Chicago Press, 1989).

Session n°7, 19 March: 'A philosophy fit for America'

  • Required reading: Josiah Royce, California: A Study of American Character (1886); Henry Conrad Brockmeyer, A Mechanic's Diary (1910).
  • Recommended reading: John Kaag, American Philosophy: A Love Story (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).

Session n°8, 26 March: The ecstatic mode in American thought

  • Required reading: Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas (1871).

Session n°9, 9 April: Pragmatism

  • Required reading: William James, Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (1907).
  • Recommended reading: Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).

Session n°10, 16 April: Environment, frontier, and empire

  • Required reading: John Muir, The Mountains of California (1894).
  • Recommended reading: Justin E. H. Smith, "Between the Mine and the Stream: Hoover's Presidential Philosophy," Cabinet Magazine 61 (2016).

Session n°11, 23 April: Wait, whose America?

  • Required reading: W. E. B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America (1935); Cornel West, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (1989).

Session n°12, 30 April: Concluding reflections / Discussion of final papers

For the final paper, you will be required to read one of the following works in its entirety (instructions to follow). Start reading early, so as not to find yourself cutting corners at the end of the semester!

  • Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson  
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  • Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
  • Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  • Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Bibliography

  • D. Graham Burnett, Masters of all they Surveyed: Expoloration, Geography, and a British El Dorado (University of Chicago Press, 2000).
  • Stanley Cavell, This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures After Emerson after Wittgenstein (University of Chicago Press, 1989).
  • Lee Dugatkin, Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America (University of Chicago Press, 2009).
  • Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution (Penguin Books, 1984).
  • John Kaag, American Philosophy: A Love Story (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).
  • Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001).
  • William R. Newman, Gehennical Fire: The Lives of George Starkey, An American Alchemist in the Scientific Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2002).
  • Charles Olsen, Call Me Ishmael (New York: Grove Press, 1947).
  • Scott L. Pratt, Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy (Indiana University Press, 2002)
  • Paul Radin, Primitive Man as Philosopher (NYRB Classics, 2017 [1927]).
  • Justin E. H. Smith, "Between the Mine and the Stream: Hoover's Presidential Philosophy," Cabinet Magazine 61 (2016).