Dennis DworkinDennis Dworkin

Professor

Ph.D, University of Chicago, 1990

Office: Mack Social Sciences, MSS 105
Phone: (775) 784-6497
Email: dworkin@unr.edu

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 and cultural studies.  In the near future, I plan on teaching a course on modern Jewish history as well.  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   I also encourage students to think about historical documents in light of theoretical approaches and methodologies.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 most recent 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 pertaining to 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.

In addition, I have analyzed contemporary theories of identity and politics in the contemporary British Isles, notably the postnationalism of the Irish philosopher Richard Kearney: “Intellectual Adventures in the Isles” in Traversing the Imaginary: Richard Kearney and the Postmodern Challenge, eds. Peter Gratton and John Manoussakis, (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2007), 61-76.  I have also published a historical account of the Trinidadian writer C. L. R. James’s remarkable sojourn in northern Nevada in 1948: “C. L. R. James in Nevada” in History Workshop Journal 63 (2007): 89-112.

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