Andrew Hartman is a professor of history at Illinois State University focusing on U.S. intellectual history. He is the author of Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School (2008) and A War for the Soul of America: A History of the Culture Wars (2015). He is currently at work on his third book, "Karl Marx in America," which is contracted to be published by the University of Chicago Press. Hartman is the winner of two Fulbright Awards. He was the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark for the 2013-14 academic year, and he was the Fulbright British Library Eccles Center Research Scholar for 2018-19. Hartman was the founding president of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History. He has been published in a host of academic and popular venues, including the Washington Post, Baffler, Chronicle of Higher Education, American Historian, Journal of American Studies, Reviews in American History, Journal of Policy History, Salon, Jacobin, Bookforum, and In These Times.
This lecture, based on my 2015 book, is about the history of the culture wars, that dramatic struggle which pitted liberal, progressive, and secular Americans against their conservative, traditional, and religious counterparts, and that captured the attention of the nation during the 1980s and 1990s. The history of the culture wars, often misremembered as merely one angry shouting match after another, offers insight into the genuine transformation to American political culture that happened during the tumultuous decade known as the “sixties.” Prior to the sixties, a cluster of powerful conservative norms set the parameters of American culture, particularly in terms of racial and gender identities. But the sixties gave birth to a new America, a nation more open to new peoples, new ideas, new norms, new identities, and new, if conflicting, articulations of America itself. In this way, the sixties ushered in the culture wars.