Andrew Seal

Andrew Seal's picture
20th Century US Intellectual History, US & the World, History of the American West and Midwest

Andrew’s dissertation, “The Almost Century of the Common Man: Democracy, Heroism, and the United States, 1880-1960,” argues that, rather than a perpetual part of U.S. identity and self-mythology, the idea of “the common man” took on a unique prominence and a particular meaning around the turn of the nineteenth century. “The common man” represented an expansion of democratic aspirations beyond issues of suffrage and citizenship and spilled over the boundaries of the nation-state, presenting an opportunity for a new kind of global consciousness. More than anything, however, advocacy for “the common man” was a rejection of a “Great Man” theory of history, politics, culture, and economy which prioritized aristocratic values of glory, honor, refinement, and excellence. Advocates of the common man insisted that these values–and any residues of aristocracy itself–were incompatible with democracy and should be jettisoned to complete the democratic project.

Andrew attended Dartmouth College, graduating summa cum laude in English and Religion and writing his senior thesis on theories of history in the novels of Saul Bellow. He has taught courses in the history of the American West, US LGBT history, and military history, as well as the U.S. history survey and a cultural history of the fin de siècle in Europe and the United States. He is a regular blogger at the Society for US Intellectual History and his work has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, n+1, and In These Times.