Chip Taylor Communications

Subject: History

Europe and America in the Modern Age Series

Stanford University Professors James Sheehan and David Kennedy present in-depth lectures on the concept of liberalism as a theoretical framework for examining the interrelationships between the histories of Europe and America. Produced by the Stanford University Channel. Programs available on 20 individual Click for more

2. Liberalism: The Idea of America

02. Liberalism: The Idea of America

The discovery of America in the late 15th century was in the largest sense the discovery of a "whole new world." Europeans were ill prepared for the cultural diversity and geographic enormity they encountered and ill-equipped to comprehend the future impact of their discovery. In this program Professor David Kennedy explains how within two hundred years of its discovery, America developed a unique national personality, having severed its ties with Europe, evolving into what Kennedy calls "a distinct social order." To illustrate his point, Kennedy draws on the imagery and ideas of popular writers of the times, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Mark Twain, who as a group recognized the fervor with which America stripped itself of its ties to Europe and developed a fresh cultural attitude of independence, individualism, freedom, and liberty. Kennedy shows how America's liberal political philosophy and isolationist foreign policy reinforced a national identity not bound to any foreign culture and resistant to any foreign influence. These policies and attitudes merged into what Kennedy calls the "idea of America," a national identity evident in the early stages of the development of American democracy and steadfastly persevering into modern times. The result is an America that exhibits the "trajectory and future of liberal democracy" and serves as an example for developing nations in the 20th century to emulate. 99/10DE SCA 50 min.

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