American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness In The Age Of Reason

Hardcover | October 25, 2016

byCaroline Winterer

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A provocative reassessment of the concept of an American golden age of European-born reason and intellectual curiosity in the years following the Revolutionary War

The accepted myth of the “American Enlightenment” suggests that the rejection of monarchy and establishment of a new republic in the United States in the eighteenth century was the realization of utopian philosophies born in the intellectual salons of Europe and radiating outward to the New World. In this revelatory work, Stanford historian Caroline Winterer argues that a national mythology of a unitary, patriotic era of enlightenment in America was created during the Cold War to act as a shield against the threat of totalitarianism, and that Americans followed many paths toward political, religious, scientific, and artistic enlightenment in the 1700s that were influenced by European models in more complex ways than commonly thought. Winterer’s book strips away our modern inventions of the American national past, exploring which of our ideas and ideals are truly rooted in the eighteenth century and which are inventions and mystifications of more recent times.

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A provocative reassessment of the concept of an American golden age of European-born reason and intellectual curiosity in the years following the Revolutionary War The accepted myth of the “American Enlightenment” suggests that the rejection of monarchy and establishment of a new republic in the United States in the eighteenth century ...

Caroline Winterer is Anthony P. Meier Family Professor in the Humanities at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Humanities Center. The author of three previous books, she received an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution.

other books by Caroline Winterer

The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in American Intellectual Life, 1780-1910
The Culture of Classicism: Ancient Greece and Rome in A...

Paperback|Mar 5 2004

$35.73 online$41.95list price(save 14%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 1 inPublished:October 25, 2016Publisher:Yale University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0300192576

ISBN - 13:9780300192575

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“American Enlightenments advances our conception of Enlightenment—both in America and Europe—in powerful ways. With chapters devoted to everything from seashells and geology to the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, Winterer convincingly argues that our perception of a unified ‘American Enlightenment’ is a myth, while at the same time showing Enlightenment in general to be a conversation that required and included America.”—Mark A. Peterson, University of California, Berkeley