Readings In Human Development 399

America Reading Group


Tanya Luhrmann

Liz Nickrenz

Cage Hall



The reading group will be meeting approximately every 2nd and 4th Wednesday during

the term with a possible detour for Thanksgiving/AAA and possible extensions to winter and

spring quarters if people are interested. We will meet in the Judd 313 from 5-7 pm.


Here's the schedule thus far:


9/27: Organizational meeting


de Tocqueville, Alexis

         1966 Democracy in America. George Lawrence, trans. [French original: De la dŽmocratie

         en AmŽrique. 1835.] New York, Harper & Row.


An earlier translation by Henry Reeve (1899) is available online:



Vol 1:

         Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans.

         The Principle of the Sovereignty of the People of North America.

         What are the Advantages which American Society Derives from a Democratic Government?

         Unlimited Power of the Majority in The United States, and its Consequences.

         Causes which Mitigate the Tyranny of the Majority in The United States.


Vol 2 Section 1:

         Philosophical Method of The Americans.

         Of the Principal Source of Belief Among Democratic Nations.

The Example of the Americans does not Prove that a Democratic People can have no Aptitude and no Taste for Science, Literature, or Art.

         Why the Americans are more Addicted to Practical rather than Theoretical Science.

         In What Spirit the Americans Cultivate the Arts.


Volume 2 Section 2:

How the Americans Combat Individualism by the Principle of Self-Interest Rightly Understood.

That the Americans Apply the Principle of Self-interest Rightly Understood to Religious Matters.

         Of the Taste for Physical Well-being in America.

         Peculiar Effects of the Love of Physical Gratification in Democratic Times.

         Why Some Americans Manifest a Sort of Spiritual Fanaticism.

         Why the Americans are so Restless in the Midst of their Prosperity.

How the Taste for Physical Gratification's is United in America to Love of Freedom and Attention to Public Affairs.

         How Religious Belief Sometimes Turns Americans to Immaterial Pleasures.

         How Excessive Care for Worldly Welfare may Impair that Welfare.

    How, When Conditions are Equal and Skepticism is Rife, it is Important to Direct Human Actions to Distant Objects.



10/11: Second Session

Riesman, David.

1950. The Lonely Crowd: a study of the changing American character. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


10/25: Third Session

Hofstadter, Richard

         1963. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. New York: Vintage. Parts I, II, III.


11/08: Fourth Session

Hofstadter, Richard

         1963. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. New York: Vintage. Parts IV, V.



12/06: Fifth Session

Bellah, Robert N., Madsen, Richard, Sullivan, William M., Swidler, Ann, and Tipton, Steven M. 1985).

         1985. Habits of the heart: individualism and commitment in American life. Berkeley, CA:

         University of California Press. We will all read the intro, conclusion, and the chapter on religion.

                 Each participant will also read and summarize one other chapter.



Some shorter readings will be available on Chalk.


Created 2006 Oct 01.

Last updated 2006 Nov 30.