Dennis Dworkin

Professor
Department Chair
Ph.D, University of Chicago, 1990

Contact

Lincoln Hall, 220
(775) 784-6497
dworkin@unr.edu

Bio

I’m an intellectual and cultural historian of Britain and Ireland and have taught at the University of Nevada since 1992. I teach courses in British and Irish history, Italian and Jewish history, and cultural studies. My goal as a teacher is to stimulate students to think about the historical process in both specific and general terms. I assign original sources, texts produced during the period of history that is being studied, and ask that students critically reflect on them. Critical reflection here entails reading texts in their historical context. Lectures, class discussions, and supplemental readings assist in this learning process. I encourage students to think about historical documents in light of theoretical approaches and methodologies I study ideas in their historical context in order to better understand how history, society, and culture have been represented in the past and the present. A critical component of my work is to contribute implicitly and explicitly to the intellectual debates that I analyze.

My last single-authored book, Class Struggles (London: Pearson Longman, 2007) develops and extends themes elaborated in Cultural Marxism in Postwar Britain: History, the New Left, and the Origins of Cultural Studies (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997). The earlier book is a history of an unorthodox intellectual tradition that is both specific to Britain and part of a more general twentieth-century European development--Western Marxism. British cultural Marxism has been responsible for launching the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies, whose impact on the social sciences and the humanities has been felt internationally, and it has been pivotal to the development of peoples’ history or “history from below” and the “new social history.” 

The scope of Class Struggles is wider than Cultural Marxism, but it explores many of the same intellectual themes, carrying the story up to the present as well as returning to the historical origins of “class” in the writings of Marx and Max Weber. The book focuses on the role of “class” in critiques of social history and the rise of cultural history in scholarly work on Britain, France, India, Ireland, Latin America, and the United States. It also discusses work in a range of disciplines outside of history: cultural studies, literary theory, philosophy, political theory, sociology, philosophy, and political theory. The book’s title has a double meaning. It refers to a central concept in Marx’s understanding of history--class struggle--while suggesting that it is the concept, rather than what it seeks to describe, that is doing the struggling. The overall argument is that the displacement of class as a master category of explanation and the breakup of social and labor history’s hegemony have made it possible to reconfigure class in new and innovative ways. 

I have also written on Ireland in connection with theoretical debates on nationalism and national identity and historiographical debates on the Anglo-Irish relationship.  My first publication in Irish studies analyzed contemporary theories of identity and politics in the contemporary British Isles, notably he postnationalism of the Irish philosopher Richard Kearney: “Intellectual Adventures in the Isles” inTraversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge, eds. Peter Gratton and John Manoussakis, (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 61-76. As a result of teaching modern Irish history, I edited the first primary source reader on the Anglo-Irish relationship since the 1990s.  In Ireland and Britain, 1798-1922: An Anthology of Sources (Boston: Hackett Publishing Company, 2012) I produced a student-friendly volume that contains familiar and unfamiliar primary sources with an eye to contributing to recent discussions on the creation of Irish national identity.

Courses

  • HIST 393: England and the British Empire I
  • HIST 394: England and the British Empire II
  • HIST 427/627: Studies in European Intellectual History
  • HIST 427a/627a: Culture and Society in European History
  • HIST 465a/665a: Culture and Society in England, 1783-1867
  • HIST 465b/665b: Making of Contemporary Great Britain, 1945-Present
  • HIST 465c/665c (Capstone): Modern Ireland and National Identity
  • HIST 700: Cultural Studies and History CH 202: The Modern World