william james

William James

At the start of the twentieth century, questions about the nature of American identity haunted the people of the United States. Suddenly an imperial power, overwhelmed by waves of immigrants across the Atlantic and the Pacific, stunned by the effects of urbanization and industrialization, the nation needed an identity. It is this crisis of the soul which Pluralism and Unity explores.

For some, the complexity of the society, its multiple layers, its many parts, made the nation’s character. The United States is plural, and pluralism is the American identity. Others insisted upon a unitary, singular view, a way to sort out who belongs and who does not. The struggle between these two visions, one of pluralism, one of unity, is the tale told by the images, the sounds and the words throughout this site.