American Intellectual History - II

Spring Term 2000-2001
Nanjing University
Professor Samuel Pearson

This course is designed for second year postgraduate students in English. It will introduce major themes in American history as the discipline is taught in the United States and will illustrate the history of American ideas as these are reflected in a variety of materials contemporary with the period being studied. This course will cover the period from the American civil war to the present. The primary textbook from which assigned readings will be taken is The American Intellectual Tradition, volume 2 (third edition), edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper. This text will be distributed in class and must be returned at the end of the term. Additional reading materials will be distributed in class from time to time, and some assignments will be made from books available in the departmental library.

The class meets from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Yifu Building, room 2-315. Expectations of students seeking credit for the course include regular class attendance, reading assigned materials, writing contextual reviews of three assigned readings, and successful completion of a mid-term and a final examination. Students will be given specific review assignments and directions for their preparation. Study guides will also be distributed before each examination to assist students in their preparation. Students should complete each week's assigned reading before meeting class.

Grades will be calculated in the following manner: Three reviews (10% each), two examinations (25% each), and class participation (20%).

Professor Pearson lives in the Foreign Guesthouse, apartment 105. His telephone number is 359-3111, extension 3105. His e-mail address is His campus office is in room 203 of the English Department building. He will be happy to meet with students either at his apartment or in the campus office at a time that is mutually convenient. Students encountering difficulties or needing assistance should contact Professor Pearson for help or clarification.

Additional information useful to students in this course will be posted on Professor Pearson's web page. The URL for that site is

Schedule of Weekly Assignments

February 7
Introduction to the class, syllabus, reading and writing requirements
Lecture on the impact of the civil war on American life and thought
Reading assignment: none

February 14
No class; class to be made up by attending sessions of the American Studies
Conference, April 27 and 28
Reading assignment: Corwin, "Entertainment and the Mass Media"

February 21
Toward a Secular Culture
Reading Assignment: Peirce, and Howells

February 28
Toward a Secular Culture-the Social Sciences
Reading Assignment: Sumner and Ward

March 7
Toward a Secular Culture-Feminism
Reading Assignment: Stanton and Gilman

March 14
Toward a Secular Culture-Philosophy
Reading Assignment: Royce, James (1), Adams, Santayana
First Paper Due

March 21
Social Progress and the Power of Intellect
Reading Assignment: James (2) and Holmes

March 28
Social Progress-Problems of Wealth and Consumption
Reading Assignment: Veblen

April 4
No class; class to be made up by attending sessions of the American Studies
Conference, April 27 and 28
Reading Assignment: Addams and DuBois

April 11
Social Progress-Problems of Race, Wealth, and Class
Reading Assignment: Dewey, Bourne, and Mencken

April 18
Confronting Economic Crisis, Communism, and Globalization
Reading Assignment: Mead, Tugwell, LeSueur

April 25
Mid-term Examination
Second Paper Due

May 2
No class; holiday

May 9
Extending Democracy and Defining Modernity-Race
Reading Assignment: Myrdal and Smith

May 16
Extending Democracy-The Arts
Reading Assignment: Greenberg and Trilling

May 23
Extending Democracy-Society
Reading Assignment: Niebuhr, Bell, and Mills

May 30
Exploring Diversity and Postmodernity-Science and the Objectivity Problem
Reading Assignment: Kuhn, Rorty, and Keller

June 6
Exploring Diversity-Race
Reading Assignment: King and Malcolm X
Third Paper Due

June 13
No class; class to be made up by attending sessions of the American Studies
Conference, April 27 and 28
Reading Assignment: Arendt and Huntington

June 20
Exploring Diversity-The Meaning of "American"
Reading Assignment: Appiah and Walzer

June 27
Final Examination
Return Textbook

Guide for the Preparation of Contextual Reviews

I expect you to read all of the assignments for this class carefully and thoughtfully. In other words, I expect a "close reading" with attention to detail. For the three selections in Hollinger and Capper that are assigned to you for preparation of contextual reviews, please follow these guidelines.

1. As you read, make a list of terms you do not understand or ideas that are unclear to you. Use a dictionary or encyclopedia to discover the meaning of these terms.

2. Outline the article as you read it and make extensive notes of the author's main points.

3. Note the brief biographical sketch of the author provided in the textbook, and add to this from other library resources if possible.

4. Write your contextual review. I do not want simply a summary of the article though you will certainly have to tell me something about the article in order to review it. Nor do I want simply your ideas about the article though these are certainly welcome. Rather, this review should tell me something about the author and her or his place in American life, the time in which the author lived, the issues with which the author was concerned, and her or his position regarding these issues as expressed in the reading. Most of this should be in your own words. If you quote directly from any source, use quotation marks and a footnote. Both when quoting directly and when conveying information derived from the textbook or from other sources, document your sources. Your review should be short, between five and eight double-spaced typewritten pages (about 1100 to 1800 English words).

5. Submit your review on the date due together with your outline and list of terms for which you have found definitions. The review itself should be in finished form. The outline and list of terms should be your rough draft, handwritten, in English or Chinese or any combination of the two. I do not want you to waste precious time copying your outline and list of terms; I want evidence that you did in fact prepare these in preparation for writing your paper.

A note on style: The preferable style for scholars in literature in America is that formulated by the Modern Language Association. You can link to it from my web page or directly at

The preferable style for scholars in history is the Chicago style which is popularly known as the Turabian style. You can link to it from my web page or directly at You are welcome to use either in this class, but do use one and be consistent.

Paper due dates: March 14, April 25, and June 6.