U-USIH Examines the Biggest Developments of the Past DecadeHistorians in the News
tags: 2010s, recent history, decades
Tim Lacy co-founded both the U.S. Intellectual History Blog and the Society for U.S. Intellectual History. He is an independent historian who earned his doctorate in U.S. history from Loyola University Chicago, with specialties in cultural and intellectual history, as well as the history of education. That work resulted in a book, The Dream of a Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
It’s not been a great decade in terms of events. My candidates for subtitles for this post: “The Troublesome Teens,” “A Decade of Decline,” “The Empire’s Fall.” None of these are subtle in direction.
I originally conceived of this as a “Decade of Ideas” post. I had planned to flesh out what seemed to be the biggest ideas from 2010 to 2019. That proved too tall a task at this point. While I’m not unobservant, I lack the necessary perspective to make many bold declarations about which ideas mattered most from the past decade. Even so, the work that went into this turned up some noteworthy terms and keywords that might in the future, I believe, serve as idea markers for the 2010-2019 period—e.g. austerity, socialism, -ism, feminism, etc. I’ll let you be the judge.
Other questions I hoped to begin to answer: Who were the decade’s most important intellectuals? What were its most important books, groups, institutions, films, happenings, and events?
Although I didn’t succeed on these fronts, what follows can be the start of a list of things that, looking back, might matter to future historians.
A few preliminary notes:
1. Apologies if there are too many Chicago and Illinois-specific events. It’s a hazard of the author’s location and dispositions.
2. All noteworthy books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with insertions of history books (generally) when I remembered/found them.
3. All noteworthy deaths are subjective—a mix of intellectuals, pop culture figures, musicians, etc.
4. Month-by-month events selected are what I think resonated outward in terms of impact.