A Companion to American Thought / Edition 1

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This outstanding book assesses the whole sweep of American thought from the colonial era to the present day. Some two hundred and fifty scholars - from history, literature, religion, philosophy, political theory, and the social sciences - have written original and substantial essays on pivotal topics and figures in the history of American intellectual endeavor and achievement. Includes concise biographical entries, suggested further reading, extensive cross-references and a complete index.

This outstanding book assesses the whole sweep of American thought from the colonial area to the present day. Some 250 scholars from philosophy, history, literature, and the social sciences have written original and substantial essays on the pivotal topics and figures in the history of American intellectual endeavor and achievement. Fully cross-referenced and indexed.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There are entries to be read with considerable profit." History

"Much more than a conventional reference work, this volume is a sophisticated compendium that takes a refreshing up-to-date view of American intellectual culture. A wide range of thinkers is included, but the most distinctive feature of the book is the imaginative articles on topics like 'cinema', 'deconstruction', 'guilt', 'fundamentalism', 'masculinity', and many others." Daniel Walker Howe, Rhodes Professor of American History, Oxford University

"Edited by two of America's most distinguished intellectual and cultural historians A Companion to American Thought reflects the best contemporary scholarship across the humanities and social sciences. Its wide-ranging entries will make this an indispensable reference work for anyone interested in American culture." Alan Brinkley, Professor of History, Columbia University

"What a Companion, or rather what a wonderful set of more than 300 plus companions! From Edith Abbott to Robert La Follette to Youth in general, the volume's varied articles take us on a reflective tour of American history, letters, and social life. Here's a journey readers will often want to begin again." Charles Tilly, University Distinguished Professor, New School for Social Research, New York

"The Companion does not rest on its laurels for having successfully met one of its admirable aims: to provide a comprehensive reference guide to 'the major concepts and thinkers in the diverse traditions of American thought.' This volume succeeds at an even nobler task: to contribute to the furtherance of constructive debates over the nature of "common knowledge" in a democracy. The Companion could hardly be more sweeping in its inclusion of the key elements that make vigorous intellectual discourse possible. Within its expansive covers, hundreds of essays provide generous evidence of the best kinds of clear thinking now available about American thought. This is indeed a necessary addition to any scholar's holdings." Martha Banta, Professor of English, University of California, Los Angeles

"I recommend this book to anyone who wonders what holds Americans together. This collection of short and longer entries details the people, events and concepts that form our history and our ongoing debates with one another. In addition, the collection preserves the individual styles, perspectives and provocations of a diverse group of talented authors. Comfortably sitting side by side, these voices nonetheless express the confident and diverging individualities that are also so American." Martha Minow, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

"Unlike most reference books, this one is imaginatively edited and filled with controversial judgements. Browsing through A Companion to American Thought is stimulating and challenging." Professor Richard Rorty, University of Virginia

"Many of the essays are masterfully done, precisely because they go beyond the conventional wisdom-mongering typical of encyclopaedias ... examples of intellectual history at its best." The Wilson Quarterly

"Scholars, students, and lay readers will find this work valuable, as a reference, introduction for research, or browsing tool. One of the most important reference works issued this year; recommended for all libraries." Library Journal

Library Journal
Edited by two leading intellectual history scholars, this work makes an original contribution to studies in American religion, history, literature, philosophy, politics, social work, and related areas from the Colonial period through modern times. Over 300 scholars contribute 363 subject essays and 316 short entries on leading figures in American thought, all linked through cross references and a detailed subject index. Topics including abortion, democracy, education, republicanism, tradition, women's rights, and youth feature individuals from Benjamin Franklin to Susan Sontag. All entries include brief bibliographies that illustrate the use of recent scholarship. A useful introductory essay by the editors place the dictionary in line with scholars attempting to cultivate a body of common knowledge while providing a forum for debating new ideas. The work also presents some of the last essays by scholar and social critic Christopher Lasch, who died in 1994. Scholars, students, and lay readers will find this work valuable as a reference, introduction for research, or browsing tool. One of the most important reference works issued this year; recommended for all libraries.-Stephen L. Hupp, Capital Univ. Lib., Columbus, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631206569
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/7/1998
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 824
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Wightman Fox is a cultural historian and Professor of History at Boston University. He taught previously at Reed College and Yale University. He is the author of Reinhold Niebuhr: A Biography and So Far Disordered in Mind: Insanity in California; and co-editor, with Jackson Lears, of The Culture of Consumption and The Power of Culture.

James T. Kloppenberg is an intellectual historian and Professor of History at Brandeis University. His first book, Uncertain Victory: Social Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought 1870-1920, was awarded the Merle Curti prize from the Organization of American Historians.

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Table of Contents

List of Contributors.


How to use this Book.

Dictionary Entries A-Z.


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