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Archive for October, 2015

We talk a lot in this class about a pendulum of reason and emotion, rationality and irrationality, Romanticism and Enlightenment or industrialism. That’s a pattern in all human history, but one that is especially prominent in our period. As we near the end of the century, we can observe several competing trends all coming together […]

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For our session this week, we will discuss issues of gender, the family, and women’s (dis)empowerment during the era of high bourgeois culture. The industrialized and fully capitalist societies in northwestern Europe (primarily Britain, France, the low countries, Germany, Scandinavian countries) by the mid to late 19th century were basking in the confidence of increasingly […]

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Here is a link to the story I mentioned tonight, the Pullman strike. Professor Loomis is great on labor issues; you can explore the site to find other links to his ‘this day in labor history’ series. It can be kind of crazy to encounter stuff like this for the first time — the military, […]

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To finish my experiment with spacing the posts, I bring you at last…. Richard Wagner. He is such a monumental figure that it’s easy to find information on him – check this official site for a variety of biographical material, interviews, and information about his works. But he is also a very problematic figure as […]

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This week’s “readings” are more like “listenings.” Music played a powerful role in 19th century nationalism, and this week we are going to consider how. In one way, we’ll use music as a stand-in for a whole variety of cultural products: novels, plays, poems, songs, and all. So how would culture influence nationalism? Consider the […]

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So far in the course we have tended to concentrate on England and France — two of the most solid and successful states of the 18th and 19th centuries. Both of these states achieved early on a unified state and society: uncontested borders, coherent and rationalized language, single state-sponsored religion, and a culturally influential capital […]

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This news story reminded me of our discussion of Mill’s thoughts on political parties, conservatism, and order. Conservative stalwart David Brooks has recently been making the rounds lamenting that the Republicans are no longer a conservative party in the Burkean sense we considered a few weeks ago: “By traditional definitions,” he writes, “conservatism stands for […]

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So now let’s get to the specter…. Utopian socialism had apparently failed. So had the liberals’ attempts in an array of European countries to establish liberal democracies. Both those ideas would still be tried for a long time, but repeated failure had hardened many peoples’ hearts against them. They wanted more direct action. That’s when […]

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“A specter is haunting Europe… the specter of Communism.” That’s the famous opening sentence of this week’s reading, the dreaded Communist Manifesto. Marx wants to scare people. Let’s look at the choice of words: a spectre of Communism. I’m not sure if he intended it this way, but it is a telling phrase because spectres […]

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As we saw this week, it’s easy to connect our studies to the present day. A few semesters ago while we were discussing Mill and liberalism, a republican friend sent me this article arguing that the conflict between left and right in modern America reflects a split in 19th century social and political philosophy, the split […]

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