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Reluctant Modernism : American Thought and Culture, 1880-1900 - George Cotkin

Reluctant Modernism

American Thought and Culture, 1880-1900


Published: 28th July 2004
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In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Americans were faced with the challenges and uncertainties of a new era. The comfortable Victorian values of continuity, progress, and order clashed with the unsettling modern notions of constant change, relative truth, and chaos. Attempting to embrace the intellectual challenges of modernism, American thinkers of the day were yet reluctant to welcome the wholesale rejection of the past and destruction of traditional values. In Reluctant Modernism: American Thought and Culture, 1880-1900, George Cotkin surveys the intellectual life of this crucial transitional period. His story begins with the Darwinian controversies, since the mainstream of American culture was just beginning to come to grips with the implications of the Origins of Species, published in 1859. Cotkin demonstrates the effects of this shift in thinking on philosophy, anthropology, and the newly developing field of psychology. Drawing on his extensive knowledge of these fields, he explains clearly and concisely the essential tenets of such major thinkers and writers as William James, Franz Boas, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Henry Adams, and Kate Chopin. Throughout this fascinating, readable history of the American fin de siecle run the contrasting themes of continuity and change, faith and rationalism, despair over the meaninglessness of life and, ultimately, a guarded optimism about the future.

The contribution of this book to the field is that it is a well-organized, clearly written, and very readable work on this period in American thought and culture. It will be a welcome addition to the literature and should easily be used in undergraduate courses on nineteenth-century American culture. -- Regina Morantz-Sanchez, University of Michigan
This fine book is both a useful summary and an original treatment of a uniquely interesting and pivotal period. -- James Hoopes, Babson College
In a comprehensive synthesis of recent scholarship as well as a reconsideration of sources from the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, George Cotkin provides an impressive interpretation of U.S. thought and culture at a time of intellectual upheaval and culture clash. . . . Cotkin's exposition is lucid, his generalizations are largely convincing, and his incorporation of recent scholarship is admirable. * The Historian *
Reluctant Modernism is an elegant, timely synthesis. The study is a gift to historians and students, uniquely probing the minds of male and female intellectuals in the period and illuminating major changes in post-Darwinian American culture. -- Sarah Elbert, SUNY Binghamton

Forewordp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
The "Tangled Bank" of Evolution and Religionp. 1
The Experiences of American Philosophyp. 27
Anthropology, Progress, and Racismp. 51
Woman as Intellectual and Artistp. 74
Consuming Culturep. 101
The American Fin de Sieclep. 130
Chronologyp. 155
Notes and Referencesp. 157
Bibliographic Essayp. 174
Indexp. 181
Table of Contents provided by Rittenhouse. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780742531475
ISBN-10: 0742531473
Series: American Thought and Culture
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 204
Published: 28th July 2004
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.7 x 18.3  x 1.4
Weight (kg): 0.28