Spheres of Liberty: Changing Perceptions of Liberty in American Culture (The Curti lectures)

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9780299108403: Spheres of Liberty: Changing Perceptions of Liberty in American Culture (The Curti lectures)
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Liberty, one of the most consequential words in our language, is one of the most treasured concepts in American thought--and one of the most intensely debated. Its meaning is constantly shifting, changing not only from one culture to another but also, over time, within the same culture. No two definitions of liberty seem alike.

In this subtle and illuminating work Michael Kammen traces the evolving concept of liberty throughout American history and provides a solid framework for understanding the meaning of the term today. He shows that by the early seventeenth century a tension between liberty and authority was well recognized. Throughout the eighteenth century and especially during the American Revolution a bond between liberty and property was asserted. By the end of the eighteenth century this concept of liberty was so well established that it remained dominant throughout the nineteenth. By the early twentieth century, as the notion of social justice gained prominence, liberty and justice were paired frequently, and by midcentury the two had become allied to general American values. Since the 1960s the union of liberty and equality has been the prevailing notion, and achieving them has proved a major objective.

In a lively and learned manner Kammen also shows that Americans have subscribed to different definitions of liberty concurrently. Above all, there has been a steady expansion of what is embraced by the concept of liberty. This expansion has created difficulties in public discourse, causing groups to misunderstand one another. On the other hand, interpretations of liberty have broadened to include such concepts as constraints on authority, a right to privacy, and the protection of personal freedoms.

In a new preface for this Banner Books edition Kammen responds to evaluations of earlier editions and places his views within the context of more recent studies.

Michael Kammen, a professor of American history and culture at Cornell University, is the author of American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century and In the Past Lane: Historical Perspectives on American Culture.

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A historical overview of the concept of liberty in American culture and thought

About the Author:

Michael Kammen is a professor of American history and culture at Cornell University.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781578063949: Spheres of Liberty: Changing Perceptions of Liberty in American Culture (Banner Books)

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ISBN 10:  1578063949 ISBN 13:  9781578063949
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi, 2001
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9780801496820: Spheres of Liberty: Changing Perceptions of Liberty in American Culture (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)

Cornel..., 1989
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Book Description University of Wisconsin Press, 1986. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. New hardcover book with dust jacket, never been read. Liberty, one of the most consequential words in our language, is one of the most treasured concepts in American thought -- and one of the most intensely debated. Its meaning is constantly shifting, changing not only from one culture to another but also, over time, within the same culture. The word also can connote different conceptions to different individuals at the same time and within the same culture. No two definitions of liberty seem alike. In this subtle and illuminating work Michael Kammen traces the evolving concept of liberty throughout American history and provides a solid framework for understanding the meaning of the term today. He demonstrates that perceptions of liberty changed as America passed through complex historical phases. Seller Inventory # 002410

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Book Description University of Wisconsin Press, 1986. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. New hardcover book with dust jacket, never been read. Liberty, one of the most consequential words in our language, is one of the most treasured concepts in American thought -- and one of the most intensely debated. Its meaning is constantly shifting, changing not only from one culture to another but also, over time, within the same culture. The word also can connote different conceptions to different individuals at the same time and within the same culture. No two definitions of liberty seem alike. In this subtle and illuminating work Michael Kammen traces the evolving concept of liberty throughout American history and provides a solid framework for understanding the meaning of the term today. He demonstrates that perceptions of liberty changed as America passed through complex historical phases. Seller Inventory # 002411

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