Modern Jeremiahs

imageSince Monday has somehow become my North Dakota day , it seems appropriate to give a short plug for Mark Jendrysik’s new book: Modern Jeremiahs: Contemporary Visions of America’s Decline.  He’s the head of the Political Science Department at UND, a PKAP fan, and a good buddy. 

The book develops further ideas that he introduced in an important 2002 article in the Journal of Popular Culture (“The Modern Jeremiad: Bloom, Bennett, and Bork on American Decline,” JPC 36 (2002), 361-383).  In this article, Jendrysik defined the modern character of the longstanding genre of the Jeremiad as manifest in works of William Bennett, Robert Bork, and Allan Bloom.  He draws examples from their popular and influential books dating from the late 1980 to the late 1990s (The Closing of the American Mind, Slouching toward Gomorrah, The De-Valuing of America, and The Death of Outrage).  These books attacked in a rather formulaic way the excesses of American culture and attributed the decline of American society to the expanding influence of relativism, the expanding power of external influences, and the lack of moral and social discipline of the masses.  Rather than critiquing these propositions based on their internal logic, philosophical rigor, or historical accuracy, Jendrysik places these texts in the historical context of the rhetorical Jeremiah who is braced between wanting his audience to “repent!” and needing conditions to get worse to prove the fundamental accuracy of their claims.

You can get it from Amazon, and I have been told that it makes a great Mother’s or Father’s Day gift!

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