The Moral Life of Corporations   /   Summer 2009   /    Interviews

An Interview with Jackson Lears

Jackson Lears and Ed Gitre

The timing of the publication of your new book, Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920—spanning the gilded Age and Progressive era—seems to be nearly perfect. everywhere there are calls for a “New Progressivism.” And it’s not merely for rhetorical, political effect. Something is stirring. People are talking once again about “thrift,” corporate “greed,” and public “responsibility.”  At base, as you well know, this language is imbued with moral meaning.

So much of what we read about this period in American history, 1877–1920, has focused on secularization and the loss of belief. while acknowledging the attenuation of creedal adherence, you are decidedly working against this grain. we simply can- not understand this period in American history, you argue, unless we understand its (mainly Protestant) religious impulses.

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