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American Studies

American Studies

Copyright Date: 1948
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 108
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  • Book Info
    American Studies
    Book Description:

    Although the immediate subject of this book is American Studies, its ultimate concern is with the broad pattern of higher education in the United States. The program of American Studies uses the materials of the American scene to advance a contemporary movement in education, and to modify a tendency of mankind to live predominantly in one of the three tenses -- past, present, or future. The movement in education is an attempt to supplement, but not replace, extreme academic specialization with a synthesis of knowledge. Mr. McDowell, who has made firsthand observation of procedures in more than thirty colleges and universities in all parts of the United States, discusses curriculums and courses in American civilization throughout the country and the American Studies program at the University of Minnesota, which is the most extensive and inclusive existing today. In summing up, he analyzes the relationship of American Studies to regional culture, national loyalty, and world society. The book is addressed to all who are concerned with American civilization or American education, but most particularly to those concerned with both. The discussion, though dealing chiefly with the liberal arts college and the graduate school, also has relevance for the general public and for high school teachers and administrators in higher education, for college teachers of the social sciences and humanities, and for graduate students and mature undergraduates about to choose a major field or already engaged in a study of American culture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6365-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    T. Mc D.
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. I Time and the Colleges
    (pp. 1-11)

    “I accept Time absolutely,” declared Walt Whitman. When Margaret Fuller announced in similar fashion that she accepted the universe, Thomas Carlyle growled: “Gad, she’d better!” We are inclined at first thought to say the same of Whitman. On second thought we recognize that an unqualified acceptance of time — acceptance alike of the past, the present, and the future — may be a notable achievement.

    Among three such diverse figures as Henry Ford, Neville Chamberlain, and Oswald Spengler there is little resemblance and yet they have one characteristic in common. Each revealed a capacity for living in a single tense...

  6. II General Education
    (pp. 12-25)

    As the need for modifying man’s age-old tendency to live in one tense is an essential factor in the making of American Studies, so general education gives contemporary impetus to American programs. General education is a fluid, ever-changing pattern for learning which has emerged during recent decades and is still emerging in American schools and colleges —a pattern for education in the common heritage and the common experience of Americans as free individuals and as citizens in a democratic society. There are three aspects of general education today, not all of them equally relevant to American Studies. General education is,...

  7. III American Studies
    (pp. 26-34)

    Because programs in American civilization have sometimes been set up independently and sometimes as part of a broader curriculum, it is difficult to say exactly when and where the first was initiated. In the early 1930’s (when general education was getting under way) Harvard and Yale encouraged joint study in history and literature, permitting students to concentrate in various areas, of which one was American culture. By 1939 either graduate or undergraduate programs in American civilization were offered by Pennsylvania, Chicago, Amherst, Smith, and George Washington. During the war the rate of increase in such curriculums fell off slightly. Since...

  8. IV Curriculums in American Studies
    (pp. 35-49)

    No two of the American curriculums which have been established from the University of Maine to the University of California are alike, for each institution has devised a program to fit its own needs and its own resources in American courses. This chapter, then, is not devoted to a search for the perfect plan for American Studies as it exists in the mind either of God or of the committee on American civilization in any university. It is, rather, a survey of the varieties of curriculums which local conditions have produced. And it is assumed that American programs will be...

  9. V American Courses
    (pp. 50-69)

    American courses are the report on American civilization which colleges and universities make to the nation and the world; out of that report American curriculums are constructed. These courses fall into three categories: first, introductions to American civilization for freshmen and sophomores, conducted either within one department or jointly by more than one; second, the body of the curriculum, made up of advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on American themes almost invariably conducted within separate departments; third, upperclass proseminars and graduate seminars in American civilization, always conducted in interdisciplinary terms and designed to integrate these departmental courses.

    The first and...

  10. VI The Minnesota Program
    (pp. 70-81)

    The Program in American Studies at the University of Minnesota is described in detail to indicate how the parts of an interdisciplinary program fit together, from a course on American life for freshmen and sophomores through the curriculum for the B.A., the M.A., and the Ph.D. degrees and on to public lectures, concerts, and a quarterly journal of American Studies. The Minnesota program is at the moment the most extensive in the country, but it is not presented here as ideal either for Minnesota (it is now and will continue to be under constant revision) or for any other institution...

  11. VII Region, Nation, World
    (pp. 82-96)

    American civilization is studied most effectively by a college or university which is studying at the same time local institutions within the United States and foreign civilizations beyond our national boundaries. Likewise an American curriculum is most effective when it combines national materials with materials which are both more and less than national. One example of the latter approach is the reduction of American society to its component parts in the study of class and caste in the United States, and a second, in the study of the racial and national groups in America. More fully developed and most useful...