ANDREW HARTMAN, Ph.D.
...author, professor, founding President of the Society for US Intellectual History
Andrew Hartman is a pre-eminent historian who is an associate professor of history at Illinois State University focusing on twentieth-century U.S. intellectual and cultural history. He is the author of EDUCATION AND THE COLD WAR: The Battle For the American School (2008) and A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA: A History of the Culture Wars (2015), two well-received titles. Dr. Hartman was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark during the 2013-2014 academic year.
He was the founding President of the Society for US Intellectual History (S-USIH) and contributes regularly to their blog. Dr. Hartman was named the Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American History for the period 2015-2018.
Andrew Hartman received a Ph.D. in history from George Washington University in 2006.
Prior to earning his doctorate, Dr. Hartman taught high school history in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. His interests include historiography and the philosophy of history.
He is married to Erica and they have two young sons, Asa and Eli.
A War for the Soul of America
This lecture, based on the 2015 book, is about the history of the culture wars, that dramatic struggle which pitted liberal, progressive, and secular Americans against their conservative, traditional, and religious counterparts, and that captured the attention of the nation during the 1980s and 1990s. The history of the culture wars, often misremembered as merely one angry shouting match after another, offers insight into the genuine transformation to American political culture that happened during the tumultuous decade known as the “sixties.” Prior to the sixties, a cluster of powerful conservative norms set the parameters of American culture, particularly in terms of racial and gender identities. But the sixties gave birth to a new America, a nation more open to new peoples, new ideas, new norms, new identities, and new, if conflicting, articulations of America itself. In this way, the sixties ushered in the culture wars.
The Culture Wars in Higher Education
Whether the culture wars in higher education during the 1980s and 1990s had political consequences is debatable. But that they had enduring historical significance is inarguable. Shouting matches about academia reverberated beyond the ivory tower to lay bare a crisis of national faith, demonstrating that the culture wars did not boil down to any one specific issue or even a set of issues. Rather, the culture wars often hinged on a more epistemological question about national identity: How should Americans think?
Curriculum Wars in Recent American History
The curriculum of the public schools served as one of the primary fronts in the culture wars, those shouting matches over values that dominated headlines in the decades following the polarizing 1960s. Placed in the long historical context of American educational politics, Andrew Hartman will examine recent curriculum wars from three distinct angles: the lens of Christian conservatives who resisted secular curriculum reform at the grassroots; the perspective of neoconservatives who sought to overturn educational trends by taking hold of the commanding heights of the state; and the position of professional educators who believed their liberal curricular innovations represented objective knowledge. What emerges from this three-pronged approach is a vexing yet clear picture of why the knowledge taught to young Americans has long been such a hot button political issue, and why it is only getting hotter with continued controversies about the Texas state history curriculum and the United States Advanced Placement exam. The curriculum is a crucible for American modernity.
The Contested American Past
In the late twentieth-century United States, Americans took an extraordinary interest in the nation’s past. But they fervently disagreed about how it should be represented. In short, history wars gripped the nation. Growing numbers of Americans took to heart George Orwell’s truism that “who controls the past controls the future.” For conservatives, history would redeem the nation from all that had gone wrong since the sixties. For those on the left, history was no less important. The left-wing interpretation of American history, like the right-wing version, often acted as a form of redemption. The greater attention paid to the history of blacks, Native Americans, Chicanos, immigrants, women, and workers was, in part, a means of redeeming the humanity of people previously swept away by traditional historical narratives that accentuated the role of powerful white men. But left-leaning Americans also understood the purpose of history as a tool for social transformation. This division in how Americans saw the American past played out in a number of high profile cases, including controversies over the National History Standards and the Smithsonian's attempts to display the Enola Gay.
Marx in America
In a recent review essay of Jonathan Sperber’s new biography of Karl Marx, Geoff Eley writes that most intellectual historians accept that “Marx’s thought became basic to the intellectual architecture of the modern world, whether as inspiration or anathema.” Using the United States of America as representative of the modern world, how have the ideas of arguably the world’s most important modern thinker, Karl Marx, been received in the country seemingly most hostile to them? This lecture analyzes the reception of Marx and Marxism in the United States beginning in 1848, the year Marx and his collaborator Engels made waves across Europe and beyond with their Communist Manifesto, and going right up through the present.
COMMENTS ON ANDREW HARTMAN
“I had the great fortune of inviting Andrew Hartman to give a talk on the culture wars, here at Aarhus University in 2014. Andrew was a great and inspiring speaker, who through his profound historical knowledge and personal commitment to the cause of education captured the audiences’ full attention from start to finish, and engaged in an important discussion about the history and the current and future state of education.”
Dr. Christian Olaf Christiansen, post.doc. & assistant professor, intellectual history, Aarhus University, Denmark
“Andrew Hartman’s visit to Spring Arbor University was one of the highlights of the year. His explanation of the culture wars was well received by everyone. We faculty also had an amazing time interacting with Dr. Hartman and students over dinner. Overall, it was a wonderful experience.”
Dr. Mark Edwards, Assistant Professor of History, Spring Arbor University (MI)
“I write on behalf of Dr. Andrew Hartman, an enormously gifted scholar and talented educator. I had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Hartman engage with both students and faculty when he came to my campus on April 23, 2015 to deliver a talk about his new book, A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA. His itinerary had him teach an honor’s class, participate in a live radio spot, lead a faculty discussion, and then give a book talk to a standing-room only crowd. In every venue, Dr. Hartman was at ease, engaging, and thoughtful. Students enjoyed his humor and were impressed with his knowledge, while faculty found him collegial and professional. Moreover, all attendees were charmed by his candor and grace. When students challenged his interpretation or asked unexpected questions, he was ready with wit and wisdom. I can say without hesitation that Dr. Hartman can handle any crowd, audience, or forum. I can also say that his expertise on late 20th century politics and education is unrivaled. Having him visit my campus was both a pleasure and a privilege.”
Dr. Michael Todd Landis, Assistant Professor of History, Tarleton State University (TX)
• Radio Interview
BOOKS BY ANDREW HARTMAN
A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA: A History of the Culture Wars (2015, University of Chicago Press)
When Patrick Buchanan took the stage at the Republican National Convention in 1992 and proclaimed, “There is a religious war going on for the soul of our country,” his audience knew what he was talking about: the culture wars, which had raged throughout the previous decade
and would continue until the century’s end, pitting conservative and religious Americans against their liberal, secular fellow citizens. It was an era marked by polarization and posturing fueled by deep-rooted anger and insecurity.
Buchanan’s fiery speech marked a high point in the culture wars, but as Andrew Hartman shows in this richly analytical history, their roots lay farther back, in the tumult of the 1960s—and their significance is much greater than generally assumed. Far more than a mere sideshow or shouting match, the culture wars, Hartman argues, were the very public face of America’s struggle over the unprecedented social changes of the period, as the cluster of social norms that had long governed American life began to give way to a new openness to different ideas, identities, and articulations of what it meant to be an American. The hot-button issues like abortion, affirmative action, art, censorship, feminism, and homosexuality that dominated politics in the period were symptoms of the larger struggle, as conservative Americans slowly began to acknowledge–if initially through rejection–any fundamental transformations of American life.
As an ever-more partisan but also an ever-more diverse and accepting America continues to find its way in a changing world, A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA reminds us of how we got here, and what all the shouting has really been about.
"A valuable addition to the growing body of literature historicizing the post-Sixties era. . . . Classic intellectual history. . . . Thoughtful and thought-provoking."
"As a guide to the late twentieth-century culture wars, Hartman is unrivaled. . . . Incisive portraits of individual players in the culture wars dramas. . . . Reading Hartman sometimes feels like debriefing with friends after a raucous night out, an experience punctuated by laughter, head-scratching, and moments of regret for the excesses involved."
"A provocative review of a formative epoch."
"Andrew Hartman has worked with a deft hand and a keen mind to give us an absorbing account of the last half-century of culture wars in the United States. By digging far beneath the cross-fire style of political rhetoric that bombards us today, Hartman shows how the seismic changes in American society, most notably in the struggle to create a more equal and inclusive democracy, unleashed a fierce conservative attempt to hold on to a world that was escaping their grip."
Gary Nash, author of History on Trial
"Whatever happened to the culture wars? Americans don't argue the way they used to, at least not over hot-button cultural issues like same-sex marriage and abortion. Andrew Hartman has produced both a history and a eulogy, providing a new and compelling explanation for the rise and fall of the culture wars. But don't celebrate too soon. On the ashes of the culture wars, we've built a bleak and acquisitive country dedicated to individual freedom over social democracy. Anyone who wants to take account of the culture wars--or to wrestle with their complicated legacy--will also have to grapple with this important book."
Jonathan Zimmerman, author of Whose America?
"A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA illuminates the most contentious issues of the last half of the twentieth century. In lively, elegant prose, Andrew Hartman explains how and why the consensus that appeared to permeate the nation following World War II frayed and fractured so
dramatically in the 1960s. With keen insight and analysis, he shows that the Culture Wars were not marginal distractions from the main issues of the day. Rather, they were profound struggles over the very foundation of what it meant to be an American. In tracing the history of those
conflicts over the last half of the twentieth century, Hartman provides a new understanding of the tensions and processes that transformed the nation."
Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill
"Hartman's richly researched intellectual history makes a major contribution by taking late twentieth century conservative political culture seriously. A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the fierceness with which so many Americans continue to defend themselves against feminism, immigration, gay rights and racial equality in the twenty-first century as well."
Claire Bond Potter, The New School
"The culture wars were about more than porn, rap lyrics, and “Piss Christ”, Andrew Hartman shows in A WAR FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA. They were fundamentally about divergent visions of national life. This is a lucid and powerful book that explains much about our own time."
David Sehat, author of The Jefferson Rule
EDUCATION AND THE COLD WAR: The Battle For the American School (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)
Shortly after the Russians launched sputnik in 1957, Hannah Arendt quipped that “only in America could a crisis in education actually become a factor in politics.” The Cold War battle for the American School-dramatized but not initiated by Sputnik-proved Arendt correct. The schools served as a battleground in the ideological conflicts of the 1950s. Beginning with the genealogy of progressive education, and ending with the formation of New Left and New Right thought, EDUCATION AND THE COLD WAR offers a fresh perspective on the postwar transformation in U.S. political culture by way of examination of the educational history of that era.
“Hartman depicts Cold War educational debates both as inheritors of longer precedents and as politically distinct to the era. He convincingly depicts this story as a political struggle for control of American schools, a conflict that he says radical and working-class constituents lost. At the same time, because this book is primarily an intellectual history, Hartman justifiably eschews tempting claims about what American schools, still largely decentralized, were actually doing. His stimulating exploration of the political and intellectual debates about American education thus invites new social histories that examine how teachers, students, and parents experienced and negotiated national Cold War imperatives in local schools. Hartman's book cautions us not to underestimate its power and permanence in American education.”
Sevan G. Terzian, American Historical Review
“A particular strength of this book is Hartman’s examination of progressive education and the intellectual abuse by conservatives. For readers wishing to examine the crisis in education as America moved into the Cold War, this well-organized synthesis provides an excellent point of departure.”
Ronald Lora, University of Toledo, OH
“The work offers a rich blend of documentary evidence and philosophical reflection.”
Samuel Day Fassbinder
“In contemporary American culture, ‘the conservative 1950s’ have become something of a cliché. Hartman's smart book gives new historical substance to the term, showing us how--and why--our schools turned Right during the Cold War. Even better, he makes us question whether the schools ever really turned back. The ‘conservative 1950s’ might still be with us, in more ways than we are willing to admit.”
Jonathan Zimmerman, Professor of Education and History, New York University
“Anyone who wants to fully understand the failure of American schools to prepare free citizens capable of vigorous participation in a democratic society will find here a complex but accessible map. Andrew Hartman is a wise and sensible guide through the thickets of historical flow, economic structure, political condition and cultural context. An encounter with EDUCATION AND THE COLD WAR is fortification for the important struggles ahead.”
William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago; Author of Teaching Toward Freedom
"Hartman's study makes a significant contribution to the political, intellectual, and educational developments associated with the rise and fall of progressive education. It will appeal to a wide variety of readers, including upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars of education."
Scott Henderson, History of Education Quarterly
"He does well to remind educators of the baleful consequences of failing to explore the deeper metaphysical grounds and broader political implications of their pedagogy."
Francis G. Couvares, Modern Intellectual History
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