Adventures In Ideas: Intellectual Life in the United States since 1865

Course Detail

Grading Basis
Letter Grade
Course Components
Offering School
School of Humanities and Social Science


This course examines American intellectuals and the intellectual life of Americans and provides a comprehensive look at developments in the arts, philosophy, political theory, science, and social criticism in the United States from the end of the Civil War to the present. Students will read the texts of influential thinkers and writers, situate their lives and their thought within an array of intellectual movements, and explore how intellectuals formed the worlds of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Americans. This course also addresses a number o interrelated issues in modern (1865-present) America: the changing relationship between religious and scientific components of culture, with a specific emphasis on Darwinism; the effects of industrialization on ideas about American society; conceptions of race, ethnicity, and gender; the “duty” of the intellectual; liberalism, conservatism, existentialism, and postmodernism; the culture wars; and the meaning of American identity.