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Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy: Rethinking the Politics of American History Paperback – August 5, 2001

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ISBN-13: 978-0415930307 ISBN-10: 0415930308

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Editorial Reviews


Few scholars think harder than James Livingston. As a result, he makes things easier for the rest of us. A tour de force of intellectual history, cultural analysis, and philosophical critique, [Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy] breaks apart many of the moss-backed cliches that have arrested the development of political thought about the emergence of consumer society.
–Andrew Ross, New York University

This is a challenging, sometimes breathtaking, exploration of the emergence of modern subjectivity throguh the lens of consumer culture and corporate capitalism. Brilliantly blending literary sources with historiographical critique, Livingston persuasively argues for the twin power of feminism and pragmatism to illuminate the emergence of the self in the modern world.
–Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University

This is an enormously stimulating book. It touches on many important issues in both contemporary political cultural criticism, and historiography...it is about the formation of historical subjects...it is about reframing the left critique of American history...Finally, it is a distinctive reading of pragmatism.
–Thomas Bender, New York University

This volume will enliven a conversation about U.S. history that has become distressingly timid and predictable. James Livingston is independent, forthright, and provocative-one of the history profession's most valuable gadflys.
–David Hollinger, University of California, Berkley

About the Author

James Livingston is a Professor of History at Rutgers University. He is the author of Pragmatism and the Political Economy of Cultural Revolution and Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class, and Corporate Capitalism.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (August 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415930308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415930307
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,264,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Livingston has taught history at Rutgers since 1988. Before then, he taught at a community college, a maximum-security prison, a small liberal-arts college, and three state universities. He's the author of five books, beginning with Origins of the Federal Reserve System (1986), on topics in economic, intellectual, social, and cultural history. His published essays include studies of Shakespeare, banking reform, cartoon politics, pragmatism, diplomatic history, Marxism, slavery and modernity, feminism, corporations and cultural studies, psychoanalysis, capitalism and socialism. He lives in New York City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Seaboard Lit Prof on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book, Livingston reiterates the arguments he presented in his earlier book, Pragmatism and the Political Economy of Cultural Revolution. So if you want the most thorough argumentation, go to the earlier book. On the other hand, if you want a quicker entrance into Livingston's provocative positions, this collection of related essays is an elegant and useful summary.

Livingston counts himself as a historian of the left; he is interested in what US history suggests regarding the possibilities for social solidarity and democratic progress. But he also wants to challenge the governing historical paradigms for US history that are perpetuated by other left historians, especially cultural historians who have recovered the neglected histories of "subaltern" populations--women, workers, people of color. These historians, according to Livingston, are locked into a "tragic" frame that can only look at US history as a story of loss. The promise of democracy, according to this frame, was lost forever when corporate capitalism of the late 19th C defeated the economic and thus political agency of farmers, skilled workers, and small entrepreneurs. Livingston wants to revise this "tragic" narrative into a "comic" frame of acceptance--that is, he wants to examine the economic and cultural changes that occurred at the turn of the century as a "cultural revolution" that does not have to mean we are defeated by Capitol forever.

His critiques rests on two areas in particular: the revision of the idea of selfhood undertaken by American pragmatists (especially William James and John Dewey), and the achievements of feminism, which he sees as sharing with pragmatism a rejection of the "modern" (ie 1650-1890) model of selfhood.
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