By Carrie Tirado Bramen
The flip of the final century, amid the excesses of the Gilded Age, kind grew to become a key inspiration for Americans—a signal of nationwide growth and improvement, reassurance that the trendy country wouldn't fall into monotonous dullness or disorderly chaos. Carrie Tirado Bramen pursues this concept in the course of the works of a variety of local and cosmopolitan writers, reporters, theologians, and politicians who rewrote the narrative of yankee exceptionalism via a party of type. Exploring cultural and institutional spheres starting from intra-urban strolling excursions in well known magazines to the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, she indicates how the rhetoric of style turned naturalized and nationalized as quintessentially American and inherently democratic. through targeting the makes use of of the time period within the paintings of William James, Anna Julia Cooper, W. E. B. Du Bois, Hamlin Garland, and Wong Chin Foo, between many others, Bramen finds how the perceived innocence and goodness of sort have been used to build contradictory and together unique visions of recent Americanism. Bramen's innovation is to examine the debates of a century in the past that validated variety because the virtue of U.S. tradition. within the late-nineteenth-century perception, which emphasised the openness of type whereas whilst acknowledging its limits, she unearths an invaluable corrective to the modern tendency to have fun the USA as a postmodern melange or a carnivalesque utopia of hybridity and distinction. (20010318)
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Extra info for The Uses of Variety: Modern Americanism and the Quest for National Distinctiveness
In Part I, I establish a genealogy of the term “pluralism” in the work of William James and two of his Harvard students, Horace Kallen and W. E. B. Du Bois. Like contemporary multiculturalism, Gilded Age pluralism originated in a university culture but quickly moved beyond the ivory tower to address the major social and political issues of the day. I begin with James because he believed that the one and the many could be resolved, at least in a limited and temporary manner—a project that his contemporaries such as Henry Adams considered futile.
James’s work on pluralism diverges from his pragmatism not so much in content as in scope. In Pragmatism, James is primarily interested in deﬁning a “pragmatic method,” which “unstiffens all our theories, limbers them up and sets each one at work” (P 53). From a pragmatic perspective, theories become “instruments” that move ideas forward rather than a search for permanent solutions, since such closure is ultimately impossible. To paraphrase James, one can never reach the end of a metaphysical quest.
In 1903 Giddings wrote: “Somewhere between excessive heterogeneity and complete homogeneity will be found that precise composition of a people which ensures progress and is yet compatible with personal freedom and a liberal social organization” (“Sociological” 253). Incorporating a Spencerian trajectory of progress as the “advancement from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous,” Giddings argued that excessively heterogeneous societies do not have a common ground, while a “really homogeneous people” does not encourage progress (“Sociological” 253).