The History of American Academics

Essay by KayshaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2004

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Educational methods have developed over time, each having significance in academics today. Warren Susman's essay History and the American Intellectual: Uses of a Usable Past, specifies that there are two kinds of societies in world history, the traditional "status or community" societies on one hand and more modern "contract" or associational societies on the other (Maddox, p.39). The body of the essay maps the interaction of these societies through American intellectuals and their use of history and myth. Susman accomplishes his goal of replacing history and historians back where they belong, which is in the "broad history-making continuum linking intellectuals and ordinary citizens in the struggle to make sense of their lives, communities, and the world around them" (Maddox, p.41). Bruce Kuklick's essay Myth and Symbol in American Studies is an explanation of the ideas that guide humanist writing and an attempt to assess the plausibility of these ideas and of the conclusions that humanist have reached.

In contrast to Susman, Kuklick views historians as a problem in academics (specifically Marx). Kuklick implies that historians are liable to read their interest back into the past, and misconstrue an individual's thought so that it is relevant for the present; the result will be that historians extract from an author what is significant for society, but lose the author's intentions. Kuklick would like us to understand that some frameworks (intellectual foundations) of analysis are perhaps more likely to lead us astray than to help us deal coherently with the past. Another point of view focuses on one aspect of academics and that is in Alice Kessler-Harris' essay Cultural Locations: Positioning American Studies in Great Debate. Multiculturalism is her main controversy as she defines a battle over the idea of America. Kessler-Harris notes that the various kinds of oppositional studies - feminist,