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20th Century Social Movements & Servant Leadership: Exploring Private and Public Responsibility in American History
|Jasper Johns, Flag (1954)|
While this course is still in development and subject to change, I expect that we will spend the first part of the course analyzing and discussing the nature of American identity and character by examining a series of famous American documents, speeches and essays (including the Declaration of Independence to Mark Twain, JFK, Franklin Roosevelet, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King). Our purpose will be to fully explore where we come from as a nation and how that has shaped our understanding of our obligations to our country, communities, and ourselves as citizens. One important question will be to examine the American value of individualism and whether that has caused us to ignore at times our duties to the world around us. The text I expect to use for that is a brand new book edited by Stephen Prothero, The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation.
With that foundation, we will then proceed to dive in to some American social movements of the 20th century to examine how those American ideals and cultural charateristics have played out in our history. I anticipate we will begin with the Gilded Age and Progressive Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We will look at political and civic leaders, as well as the cultural and social conversation that Americans had about government and civic responsibilities (which will include looking at art and literature of the time). It's likely that we will then also look at the 1960s and the rise of Conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s (the latter sometimes being called the "New Gilded Age"). Time permitting, we might also consider other movements as well.