Contending with Modernity

Contending with Modernity : Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century

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How did Catholic colleges and universities deal with the modernization of education and the rise of research universities? In this book, Philip Gleason offers the first comprehensive study of Catholic higher education in the twentieth century, tracing the evolution of responses to an increasingly secular educational system. At the beginning of the century, Catholics accepted modernization in the organizational sphere while resisting it ideologically. Convinced of the truth of their religious and intellectual position, the restructured Catholic colleges grew rapidly after World War I, committed to educating for a "Catholic Renaissance." This spirit of militance carried over into the post-World War II era, but new currents were also stirring as Catholics began to look more favorably on modernity in its American form. Meanwhile, their colleges and universities were being transformed by continuing growth and professionalization. By the 1960's, changes in church teaching and cultural upheaval in American society reinforced the internal transformation already under way, creating an "identity crisis" which left Catholic educators uncertain of their purpose. Emphasizing the importance to American culture of the growth of education at all levels, Gleason connects the Catholic story with major national trends and historical events. By situating developments in higher education within the context of American Catholic thought, Contending with Modernity provides the fullest account available of the intellectual development of American Catholicism in the twentieth more

Product details

  • Hardback | 448 pages
  • 160.5 x 235.7 x 34.3mm | 900.74g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195098285
  • 9780195098280

Review quote

Philip Gleason has produced a magisterial interpretation of Catholic higher education in the twentieth century....the most reliable and convincing comprehensive history of Catholic higher education. It is a must read for all involved in Catholic higher education and for all those interested in the intellectual and institutional history of religion and education in this country. * U.S. Catholic Historian *show more

Back cover copy

Written by the leading interpreter of American Catholicism, Contending with Modernity is the first history of American Catholic higher education to examine both intellectual and institutional dimensions of the subject. Taking a narrative approach, Philip Gleason begins his account with an overview of old-style Catholic colleges in the 1800s and the internal conflicts that influenced the founding of The Catholic University of America, the first modern Catholic university. From there, Gleason depicts Catholic educators around 1900 as they began to accept modernization in the organizational sphere but rejected it in the realm of ideas and beliefs. Convinced of the truth of their religious and intellectual position, the restructured Catholic colleges grew rapidly after World War I and moved into the postwar era with enhanced self-confidence. Gleason examines trends such as "Catholic Action" and argues that the economic collapse at home during the 1930s and rise of totalitarianism in Europe furthered the critique of secularism and led to a firm Catholic commitment to educate for a "Catholic Renaissance". In the 1960s, changes in church teaching as a result of the Vatican II Council and cultural upheavals in American society reinforced the internal transformation already under way. The resulting "identity crisis", according to Gleason, demonstrates how Catholic educators have come full circle since 1900, as they once again face the task of envisioning Catholic colleges and universities as a distinctive element of higher more

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