The American Idea

Instructor:  Darren Staloff
Offered by Macaulay Honors College
Fridays, 9:00am-12:00pm
MHC 310

This course explores American history, culture, and government through extensive examination of primary sources supplemented by short secondary primers. Rather than attempt to survey all of the nation’s history, The American Idea focuses on a series of critical moments (the founding of the nation, the Civil War, and the New Deal) in the formation of the United States and its social and political order.

Sample reading list:

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of an American Slave
  • Anzia Yesierska, Bread Givers
  • John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action
  • Walter Lippmann, The Public Philosophy
  • Hector St. John de Crèvecœur, Letters from an American Farmer
  • Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison
  • Speeches and debates of Abraham Lincoln 
  • Speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Students in the Hertog Scholars Program take six required multidisciplinary seminars focused on close readings and discussion of enduring texts that ask vital contemporary questions. The program is open to incoming first and second year Macaulay students.