Writing an intellectual biography

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Ideas moved Hofstadter more than demography, and the diversity of thought represented by this population proved crucial in forming his historical judgments. Not because of its physical movement, spiritual ineffability, or affective elusiveness despite the respective importance of these aspects , but because a body is a locus of contradiction and action par excellence. The slash-and-burn campaigns that pass as political discourse in our own times would have offended and depressed Hofstadter, for they emphasize what divides rather than unites Americans. This meant that I would speak in Philosophical Hall, a building attached to Independence Hall, where not only Benjamin Franklin had spoken, but also America's first paleontologist, Joseph Leidy, and his student and successor, Edward Drinker Cope. Where did this leave liberalism? By politics Published: October 6, On Intellectual Biography Tim Kaposy When we have to change an opinion about anyone, we charge heavily to their account the inconvenience they thereby cause us. One was for a head technician job at the Los Angeles County Museum. The festishization of conflict has obscured the value of consensus. The historical loop that encircles biographers invites them to double as chroniclers of narrated historicity, sift through its details scattered like gravel, and locate how and where historicity trades and travels.

This biography is naturally an extended conversation with the formal writings of Richard Hofstadter. When I left the University I believed I was as good a geologist and paleontologist as any other student at the doctoral level.

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A highly evolved sense of humor linked the two qualities together. But the times no longer supported this vision—nineteenth-century liberalism collapsed in the s. Emblematic of psychoanalysis, philosophy, and literature, Kristeva narrates their lives to critique ideation, which is a process often misidentified as the medium or product of psychical life.

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While the consumer paradise of the twenties offered an artificial sense of calm, he wrote in the introduction to The American Political Tradition, the cumulative impact of unemployment and war resulted in a curious mixture of nostalgia, insecurity, and pessimism.

To accomplish this I knew I needed a job in a museum, but I also realized that with my college grades and no degree, I might not ever get such a job.

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Intellectual autobiography essay example

It takes me a long time to read things, so it's an ongoing endeavor to become as well-read as I would ideally like to be. Just tell us what you've found and what you think it means. He came from Buffalo, an ethnically mixed city lacking a dominant identity, his sense of ambiguous geographical origins further sharpened by the fact that American historians traditionally came from New England or the Midwest. By the end of the great twenties bull market, immigrant America had found its first voices in politics Al Smith , law Felix Frankfurter , and aesthetics Meyer Schapiro. Among professional historians, only the distinguished Progressive thinkers Frederick Jackson Turner and Charles Beard and postwar notables C. I decided that L. Focus on that. Vann Woodward and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. More than three decades after his untimely death from leukemia at the age of fifty-four, legions of journalists and Internet bloggers routinely adopt social-psychological concepts—status anxiety, paranoid style, anti-intellectualism—popularized by Hofstadter. To understand its weaknesses as well as its strengths we must appreciate the ideas and politics—and history—that it produced. And when the accolades began to pile up he took them in stride, bemused but not overly impressed. In tracing the psychology and emotional needs of his subjects, Hofstadter hoped to make history at once more complex and more clear. But then came Vietnam, Watergate, and twenty-four-hour cable news.

Ideas are illusory markers of a life or, put differently, they are products neither of private intention nor context. Map out these pivotal moments on a timeline, being sure to mention one incident from elementary school and high school and several from college.

My intellectual biography

Tip Do not confuse writing an intellectual biography with one that contains big, impressive words. Involvement, no doubt, sacrificed a scientific pose, yet, as he knew from firsthand experience, it also provided the writer with a surfeit of fresh insights and new perspectives. Each affirmed and gave coherence to the other. The historian, being an individual, is also a product of history, and of society; and it is in this twofold light that the student of history must learn to regard him. Introduction Interior, Exterior In a liberal society the historian is free to try to dissociate myths from reality, but that same impulse to myth-making that moves his fellow man is also at work in him. A quiet and in some ways distant man, he came alive in the motion of performance, and this included the liberating freedom of the open page. Hofstadter openly communicated a genius for fearless exposure, perceptive play, and bold commentary through his scholarship. I stood there petrified. Stay close to the allotted word count for your biography. See also:. The patient containment of cold war tensions—no Far Left appeasement, no Far Right rollback—appears in light of the early s implosion of the USSR, a safe and successful end to the great ideological split between communism and capitalism. In the pages of his most popular books, Hofstadter championed a thoughtful and pragmatic social philosophy sympathetic to the welfare state reforms initiated by the New Deal. The historical loop that encircles biographers invites them to double as chroniclers of narrated historicity, sift through its details scattered like gravel, and locate how and where historicity trades and travels. Considering that Hofstadter wrote history with such consummate attention to his own age provides an opportunity to explore not merely the scholarly and literary value of his writings, but also the hopes and frustrations of these fascinating and critical years.

The offer was made to Princeton University students, and although I wasn't enrolled, I couldn't possibly pass up an opportunity to find out why reading and memorizing was so difficult.

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Erickson Intellectual Biography