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Themes in Twentieth Century American Culture
1979 Volume II

Introduction

Though the title speaks of “Twentieth-Century Themes,” this collection of curricula brings together topics and materials whose reach extends to the earliest moments in American history. This variety is a testimony as much to the imagination and creativity of the participating teachers as to the flexibility of the program in which these talents found expression.

It seems almost superfluous to say that these units are intended to be suggestive rather than definitive of the way in which their subjects may be taught. Sample lessons are just that: samples of the means by which otherwise difficult ideas and indigestible facts may be made both fascinating and palatable to students without established commitments to historical study. They are all the more accessible for having been hammered out on the basis of mutual exchange within the Institute’s seminars.

The quality of the curricula speaks for itself, but I should add a word of my own about the experience of the seminars. Simply put, they were both immediately practical and continually inspirational. The interest, intelligence, and imagination which the participants brought to discussion made for a fascinating, free-flowing exchange of ideas in which we all, I think, felt some sense of renewal. Not the least of the benefits of our weekly meetings was the welcome sensation of having my feet much more firmly planted on the ground of classroom pedagogy.

Jean-Christophe Agnew

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