SoSe 14: How to Know Things: Competing Visions of Knowledge in Modern America
"I know myself ... but that is all--," laments Amory Blaine at the conclusion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920). For a novel in the tradition of the bildungsroman, this startling ... read more
"I know myself ... but that is all--," laments Amory Blaine at the conclusion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise (1920). For a novel in the tradition of the bildungsroman, this startling closing statement points to a larger crisis of values and democratic education. Much as Fitzgerald’s protagonist chafes against classical notions of knowledge during his college days at Princeton, many other American writers, artists, and intellectuals likewise felt that industrialization, commercialization, and modern science challenged the consensus of what (and how) one should know.
This Master-level seminar inquires into the late 19th- to early 20th-century evolution of new discourses, practices, and institutions of knowledge in North America. Approaching turn-of-the-century U.S. culture through the prism of knowledge, participants will confront theoretical and methodological issues, study material from several fields and media, and develop individual research projects. A core selection of texts by Henry Adams, Willa Cather, John Dewey and others will form the backbone of our inquiries. In the second half of the term, students will present their ongoing research to the group.
Attendance of the first session is mandatory to secure a spot in this class. close