For the ages For Hofstadter, pictured here in , anti-intellectualism was an unavoidable part of a democratic society. (Erich Hartmann / Magnum Photos). Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Non- Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American. Tonight I began a six-week session leading a Newberry Library seminar on Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

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Anti-intellectualism in American Life – Wikipedia

Views Read Edit View history. Unfortunately this is at a time when we have never been in more need of the critical examination of thought and the new ideas that intellectuals provide. Aug 10, Roslyn rated it it was amazing.

How can the most powerful country on Earth reject science, encourage religous superstition and anti-intellecrualism the tea party? Dunn rated it really liked it Shelves: This book points backward to the formation of anti-intellectual tendencies in American history, and points to the present and future with concern.

This anti-intellectualism has had a long history and staying power.

Review: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life ()

Sent their sons to be educated old-Europe style In the succession of scapegoats chosen by the followers of this tradition of Know-Nothings, the intelligentsia have at last in our time found a place.

The final chapter is nearly a call to armsfor American intellectuals to counteract the ignorance that exists within our country, and not stand for being conformed into the current American society. When once he does pass his school and fixes himself for life, his next care will be to get his children there also.

Hofstadter explores the development of the American bias against intellectuals. Although the book reads much more like an academic book than I expect from Pulitzer winners, it provides a context that is necessary anti-inhellectualism understand our current cycle of anti-expertise reactions.


Dec 22, Randall Wallace rated it liked it. The overarching point of the book seems to be that since its inception, America has hofztadter cycles of anti-intellectual sentiment. He states “that business is the most powerful and pervasive interest in American life,” and adds, “since the mid-nineteenth century, businessmen have brought to anti-intellectual movements more strength than any other force in society” And I thought I wanted to know more about that too, but it turned out to be pretty boring in practice, so I dropped it, for now.

Success depended on skilled recruiting and religion that was readily accessible. This information is still so relevant today. As a high school teacher for almost 30 years, I can vouch for this tendency and note that it continues today, despite any efforts by individual teachers contrarily.

But in early America ordinary citizens did not want to fund colleges for the rich. He wrote an intellectual history of anti-intellectualism.

How have conditions for intellectuals improved or worsened? I believe it fair to say that we’ve not seen a conspicuous “brain trust” in any administration of the past half-century, nor have we seen a man of intellect in anti-intellectuxlism White House excepting Bill Clinton, his occasional conduct notwithstanding.

It examines in depth the influence of John Dewey on the educational system, and the conflicting drives of traditional education to learn the classical subjects as opposed to the modernising desire of the “New Education” whose goal was to prepare students to become good citizens in a democracy. Because the book was written almost hofstadtter years ago, it delves deeper into the subject matter then anti-intellecualism contemporary work.

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From here, he starts to explore what has put the intellectual at odds with the population at large in America since its inception. After America became industrialized and business more complex, higher education began offering more engineering, accounting and law. But he does plot some of the baleful consequences of an exclusive commitment to egalitarianism as manifested in public schools, for example.


Book isn’t insanely well-written. Somehow the hofstavter that somebody might just be better than somebody else at something, without it being a result of identity categories and power imbalances, the idea that somebody wrote a better paper because they are smarter, harder working, or jofstadter temperamentally more suited to the discipline is now anathema. The goal was to find a valid and cogent pathway into how Hofstadter should be revised or reworked.

They began espousing the democratic values that were the basis for their own disdain putting themselves in an hkfstadter situation. This book is not nearly as snotty as the title makes it sound.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

Anti-intellectualixm I’m using overview in a very poor way — it was excruciatingly detailed. Here some notes — I did not know Richard Hofstadter before reading this book, which first published inanti-intellectulaism of the Pulitzer of that year. The author could not have imagined the propaganda machines that political Written inthis book outlines the history of anti-intellectualism in our nation. We can all be blind to our biases, even the highest level experts and intellectuals America was populated by religious dissidents who rejected the oppressiveness and decadence of European society.

My only criticism of the book is that in that Hofstadter wrote it insome of, what for him, contemporary examples of intellectualism now seem dated.