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E-Seminars: E-Seminar Detail
 



E-Seminars in This Series

E-Seminar 1
The Crisis of Victorianism


E-Seminar 2
The Search for a Scientific Culture


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


 
Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945
E-Seminar 7, The Culture of "The People"

Taught by: Casey Nelson Blake

Description
E-Seminar Description
In this seminar, the seventh of the series Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945, Professor Casey Nelson Blake elucidates the impact of the Great Depression, the radical critiques that arose in response, and the legacy of a new form of cultural celebrating "the people."

Between the 1890s and the middle of the twentieth century, the United States underwent dramatic transformations. Our economic, political, and social landscapes changed irrevocably; so too did our intellectual and cultural life. In his nine-seminar series Intellectual and Cultural History of the United States, 1890–1945, Columbia professor of history Casey Nelson Blake describes how Americans abandoned Victorian complacencies to confront secularism and science, pragmatism and pluralism, the rise of consumer culture and the shock of the Depression, and the international challenges posed by fascism, communism, and the emergence of the United States as a world power.

In this eighth e-seminar, The Culture of "The People" Blake begins by describing the extent of the Depression and its overall impact. He then discusses the solutions proposed by such figures as Edmund Wilson and Lewis Mumford, who advocated a union of democratic political traditions and socialism, as well as those of Sidney Hook and W. E. B. Du Bois, who looked to Marxism for answers. The next section of the seminar explores the role of the American Communist Party in the culture of the 1930s, and the rise of a popular front against fascism. It is followed by a discussion of the new cultural focus on "the people," through documentary, government-sponsored writing projects, and the new understanding of culture as a people's way of life. The seminar ends with a discussion of the film The Grapes of Wrath and how it expresses the dual legacy—both radical political critique and cultural celebration—of the 1930s.

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
•   Learn about the impact of the Depression.

•   Examine the role played by Marxism and the American Communist Party in the 1930s.

•   Understand the new focus on the culture of "the people" that arose out of the Depression.

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Outline
1. Introduction
2. The Great Depression
     Extent of the Damage
     Early Political Responses
     Impact on American Intellectuals
     Embracing Community
3. Democratic Radicals
     Edmund Wilson
     John Dewey
     Lewis Mumford
4. Marxists
     Sidney Hook
     W. E. B. Du Bois
5. The American Communist Party
     Early Years
     The Popular Front
     Growing Prestige
6. Cultural Nationalism
     Celebrating Democratic Culture
     Celebrating the Common Man
     The Rise of Documentary
     A New Understanding of Culture
7. The Grapes of Wrath
     Fiction, Film, and Music
     The John Ford Film
7. 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
Hollinger, David A., and Charles Capper, eds. The American Intellectual Tradition: A Sourcebook. Vol. 2, 1865 to the Present. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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


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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 or more 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 or more 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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