Richard Hofstadter’s famous Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, his tenth book, earned him the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction (). This “personal book,”. For the ages For Hofstadter, pictured here in , anti-intellectualism was an By the time Anti-Intellectualism in American Life was published (), he was a . Anti-intellectualism in American Life was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Non- Fiction. It is a book which throws light on many features of the American.

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What I fear is a government of experts. However attacks on intellectuals steadily mounted through his administration interrupted by WWII. Hofstader plots the increasingly vocational complexion of colleges and universities during the twentieth century, claiming that parents now “send [their sons–and daughters] for the gains measurable in cold cash which are supposedly attainable through vocational training” His perception that Americans were being dragged to the ‘lowest common denominator criterion’ of thought and ‘technician conformity’ of lifestyle would seem to have arrived with the current political impasse and cultural Hogstadter.

Hofstadter began by acknowledging that the intellectuals in midcentury American society enjoyed an unprecedented level of privilege and hofsgadter. As an active scholar, he had weathered the s witch hunt against intellectuals and artists of many stripes, and this proved a pivotal event in his thinking, as reflected in several of his books.

A generation before the Revolution, American revivalist preachers intellectuakism already denigrating the university-educated ministers of the New England mainstream as over-intellectualized and therefore closed off to divine inspiration, and in politics the ridicule of the intellectual as too impractical a person to be trusted with the public good goes back to Jefferson at least. He’s certainly done his homework and summons vast amounts of evidence, though he does not allow his footnotes to overwhelm his text.

Books by Richard Hofstadter. The book talks about the foundation of America Another game changer. The signs are everywhere, and among the most painful of them for me are the consistently dismal scores of American secondary students in virtually every international test I’ve seen over the past decade and more.

Though the current events are now history, it was still totally relevant. Their workload expectations make hofstafter look pitiful. The final chapter is nearly a call to armsfor American intellectuals to counteract the ignorance that exists within our country, and not stand for being conformed into the current American society.

As a man of his time, Richard Hofstadter was a Communist, and a member of the Young Communist League at university, and later progressed to Communist Party membership. There’s a slippage between the idea that people should have equal rights, equal opportunities, equal dignity, and the perverse notion that people are all the same.


That “widely felt” is the giveaway, particularly at polling booths. A liking for philosophy, psychology, and radical politics and for reading the new republic are much less auspicious for marital bliss than a liking for YMCA work, bible study and the American magazine.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

As business became more powerful this perception gained strength. Thanks for telling us about the problem. A letter from Hofstadter declaring his opposition to student loyalty oaths, When it was first published, in the early s, it called on America to close the door on McCarthyism and for the Republican Party to open its collective mind to an awareness of where it was dragging American society and American life. In the years since “the new demand for academic excellence,” a periodic hue and cry, has not made much difference in praxis, which fact fits Hofstadter’s long view of educational reform: Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

I have lived in Poland, Bulgaria, and Australia, and have some idea of what is required of college-bound fifteen-year-olds in those countries. But it is these exceptional minds that offer us unique perspectives. Hofstadter was nonetheless concerned with the degradation of the public sphere and with the growing contempt for reasoned debate during the McCarthy years.

It’s a waste of time for them, and a place they are taught to feel inferior. Diving into religion, business, politics, psychology and higher education — among other subjects — Hofstadter shows that anti-intellectualism — very roughly put, the view that knowing how to correctly push the buttons on a dishwasher is more important than knowing how to design or manufacture one, or to explain how one works — is hardwired in American culture and life.

I never did review this, though I thought it was excellent. He believes that education in ish is leveling the playing field too much and trying to become utilitarian by considering only the greatest good for the greatest many.

Hofstadter framed his big book with two introductory chapters and, eventually, a long epilogue that traces the place americwn intellectuals in terms of the alternating poles of alienation and conformity.

But, again in his view, the anti-intellectual bias has produced a society that “looks upon the world as an arena for conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, and, accordingly, it scorns compromise who would compromise with Satan? Open Preview See a Problem? In considering the historic tension hofshadter access to education and excellence in education, Hofstadter argued that both anti-intellectualism and utilitarianism were consequences, in part, of the democratization of knowledge.

Or Choteau, where, midway through the school year, the new superintendent cancelled a planned speech by University of Intellectualim climatologist and Nobel Prize co-winner Steve Running. The fear and hofdtadter for the intellectual in America dates back to before the founding of the republic.


The puritans and the religious awakenings and Jonathan Edwards, Methodism, Episcopalians are overly familiar to most readers. The degree, not hofstadteg the business degree, is the prerequisite to a job and lacks, for many, validity apart from that. But I certainly appreciate its necessity. American Culture in an Age of Academe, arguably a descendent of Hofstadter’s book, makes this case, claiming that ivory tower intellectuals have retreated hogstadter their specializations, including specialized languages that exclude the interested lay public, thus furthering Hofstadter’s anti-intellectual thesis.

Also great for anyone interested in US history. Russell Jacoby’s The Last Intellectuals: Feb 12, Pages. I really appreciated his evaluation of religion, business, and education coupled with this issue of practicality vs. We are suffering for it to this day, to be honest.

All had correctly recognized the incorporation of intellectuals into the mainstream of American society, Hofstadter insists, but they were wrong to believe that incorporation necessarily implies a loss of critical perspective. Intellectuals are nonconformists often seen as aberrant as is the case of many great writers, scientists and artists. To read it is to attain a fuller understanding of the rise of modern political figures such as Sarah Palin, What are the roots of stupidity in America, and how did they grow so strong?

The conclusion paints an overall picture of the periodic waxing and waning of anti-intellectual sentiment throughout the decades.

Apr 02, Donald Luther rated it it was amazing. Though much of its historical content bypassed me, I remember feeling a sense of validation for the person I was endeavoring to become. Hofstadter’s main problem, as far as I can tell, is that he doesn’t have a working definition for intellectual.

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter | : Books

Unless a man can pass one or another of these schools and be enrolled upon their lists he cannot receive employment under this Government, no matter how great may antii his capacity, how indisputable his qualifications.

Anti-intellectualism is not only an American thing.

The Methodists went from a few thousand American members in to more than a million and a half by becoming the largest single denomination. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction.