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Freedom and Tradition: Alexis de Tocqueville on How to Live in America

America prides itself on being the “land of opportunity.” Taking advantage of opportunities often seems to require freeing oneself from the fixtures of one’s early life—family, religious tradition, hometown. How can young Americans navigate this passage to adult life well?

Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman whose delightful book about American life has remained relevant for nearly 200 years, is a uniquely good guide for thinking about the way American democracy structures the opportunities we have for study, career, family, religion, and political life. In this course, we will read together selections from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America to think about how young people today might thoughtfully approach the particular challenges of American adulthood.

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