The Theological Turn at U. S. Intellectual History

Mark Edwards
Detroit Photographic Co., "Army and Navy [Soldiers and
Sailors] monument, Indianapolis, Indiana," Library of
Congress, Prints and Photographs Online.

The sixth annual meeting of the Society for U. S. Intellectual History (S-USIH)  will take place October 9-12 at the Omni Severin Hotel in Downtown Indianapolis.  More information can be found here, including the conference schedule which will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.  Readers of RIAH will note a number of familiar names on the program, including Kathryn Lofton, who will be delivering the keynote address on Bob Dylan and the search for belief in history.  Lofton will also be joining the omnipresent Ed Blum and several others on a plenary session, What is U. S. Intellectual History?  If that alone is not worth the price of admission, the conference will host a roundtable on what is being called the "theological turn" in American history.  This panel is the brainchild of Lilian Calles Barger, the author of Eve's Revenge who just recently completed a wonderful dissertation on liberation theology at UT Dallas.  Joining Barger will be Molly Worthen, K. Healan Gaston, Matthew Hedstrom, and Andrew Finstuen.


Tom Van Dyke said…
If "US Intellectual History" isn't simply a hill on which a flag has been planted by the left, of the left and for the left [read the society's blog of late], someone such as Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College should be impaneled.

"Do Americans have minds?

Of course not. “The greater part of the public, and a greater part even of the intelligent and alert public, is simply non-intellectual,” declared Richard Hofstadter in his bluntly titled "Anti-intellectualism in American Life" in 1963. Of course not, agreed Daniel Boorstin, Hofstadter’s contemporary and (in many ways) nemesis.


[William] Goetzmann is only following what I’ll call, for simplicity’s sake, the “Harvard Narrative” of American intellectual history, a pattern laid down since the 1920s by a quartet of great Harvardians — Perry Miller, Samuel Eliot Morison, Vernon Louis Parrington, and Ralph Barton Perry.


U.S. Intellectual History is the name of an organization and a blog. What is US Intellectual History? Why, whatever they say it is.

Perhaps it's merely a study the history of US intellectuals. Of course, who qualifies as an "intellectual" almost begs the question.

Hofstadter, yes. Lincoln, no.

If "what is American intellectual history" is the actual question, Guelzo or some such should be invited to answer.

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