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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail
 



E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
The Crisis of Victorianism


E-Seminar 3
Pragmatism and Its Critics


E-Seminar 4
Ethnic Pluralism


E-Seminar 5
The Intellectuals and the First World War


E-Seminar 6
The Rise of Consumer Culture


E-Seminar 7
The Culture of "The People"


 
Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945
E-Seminar 2, The Search for a Scientific Culture

Taught by: Casey Nelson Blake

Description
E-Seminar Description
By the end of the nineteenth century, science and technology were exerting a tremendous influence on life in the United States. Most Americans were enthusiastic about the transformation of their physical environments, but they were much more ambivalent about the religious, moral, and cultural implications of a scientific worldview. The theories of Charles Darwin in particular reverberated throughout American culture and provided a dramatic focus for debates about the relationship between science and religion and about the application of science to social problems. In this second e-seminar of the series Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945, Casey Nelson Blake explores why Darwin's ideas seemed so revolutionary and how Darwinism helped to move the United States toward a more secular and scientific modern culture. The Search for a Scientific Culture offers streaming video of Professor Blake's dynamic lecture together with visual materials, biographies, excerpts from primary texts, and a discussion forum.

E-Seminar Length:3-5 hours
Start Date:Anytime
Credits:Not-for-Credit
Prerequisites:None
Moderator:None
Columbia Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni:FREE

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E-Seminar Objectives | Outline | Instructor's Background | Recommended Reading | Technical Requirements

E-Seminar Objectives
•   Appreciate the unsettling impact of science on the religious and moral certainties of late-nineteenth-century Americans.

•   Consider the range of reactions among religious leaders to Darwin's ideas.

•   Learn about social Darwinism, in both its conservative and progressive versions.

•   Understand the contribution of social Darwinism to the rise of the social sciences in the United States.


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Outline
1. Introduction
2. The Impacts of Science and Technology
     The Physical World Transformed
     American Ambivalence
     Basic Assumptions Challenged
     The Tension between Faith and Science
     The Higher Criticism
3. The Darwinian Revolution
     The Impact of The Origin of Species
     Revolutionary Implications
     Responses of Protestant Leaders
     Science as Surrogate Religion
     The Morality of Science
4. Social and Political Darwinism
     The Conservative View
     Subversive Implications
     The Progressive View
5. Conclusion

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Instructor's Background
Instructor's Background
A native New Yorker, Casey Nelson Blake is Professor of History and Director of the American Studies program at Columbia University. He has also taught at Reed College, Indiana University, the University of Rome, and Washington University in St. Louis. Blake is the author of many works on U.S. intellectual and cultural history, including Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford. In addition to his scholarly publications, Blake has published essays and criticism in the American Scholar, Commonweal, Dissent, the Nation, Tikkun, and other journals of opinion. He is currently writing a book on public art and civic culture in the United States.

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Recommended Reading
Bannister, Robert C. Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Social Thought. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1979.

Fox, Richard Wightman, and James T. Kloppenberg, eds. A Companion to American Thought. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995.

Hollinger, David A. "Justification by Verification: The Scientific Challenge to the Moral Authority of Christianity in Modern America." In Religion and Twentieth-Century American Intellectual Life. Edited by Michael Lacey. Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 116–35.

Hollinger, David A., and Charles Capper, eds. The American Intellectual Tradition: A Sourcebook. 4th ed. Vol. 2, 1965 to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Menand, Louis. The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2001.

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Technical Requirements
You will need to use a computer with Internet access to complete this course. We recommend the following minimum configurations:

IBM-COMPATIBLE PC
Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, or NT
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 4 or above (Internet Explorer 5 strongly recommended) or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

MACINTOSH
MAC OS 8.6 or higher
64 MB of RAM (128 recommended)
Monitor: 800x600 resolution recommended
Connection: Internet service and 56K modem minimum
Browser: Internet Explorer 5 or above or Netscape 4.7 or above
Sound Card (if you can hear audio you have a sound card)
Plug-ins: RealPlayer 7 or later; Flash Player 5 or later; Acrobat Reader 5 or later
(all plug-ins are free)

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