Intellectual Populism

Intellectual Populism

Democracy, Inquiry, and the People

Rhetoric & Public Affairs

by Paul Stob

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Imprint: Michigan State University Press

376 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in

  • ISBN: 9781611863604
  • Published: April 2020



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In response to denunciations of populism as undemocratic and anti-intellectual, Intellectual Populism argues that populism has contributed to a distinct and democratic intellectual tradition in which ordinary people assume leading roles in the pursuit of knowledge. Focusing on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the decades that saw the birth of populism in the United States, this book uses case studies of certain intellectual figures to trace the key rhetorical appeals that proved capable of resisting the status quo and building alternative communities of inquiry. As this book shows, Robert Ingersoll (1833–1899), Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), Thomas Davidson (1840–1900), Booker T. Washington (1856–1915), and Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938) deployed populist rhetoric to rally ordinary people as thinkers in new intellectual efforts. Through these case studies, Intellectual Populism demonstrates how orators and advocates can channel the frustrations and energies of the American people toward productive, democratic, intellectual ends.