Professor Pittenger retired in December 2020. He taught courses on nineteenth and twentieth-century American thought and culture. His courses examined the emergence of American mass culture and modernist art. Some of the courses he taught include: "Nineteenth-Century American Thought and Culture," "Culture Wars: Modernism, Mass Culture, and the Modern U.S., 1880-1941," and a seminar called "American Society and Culture, 1940-1960: The Culture of Politics, and the Politics of Culture." He is a recipient of the Boulder Faculty Assembly’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
Professor Pittenger graduated with highest honors from Denison University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He is the author of American Socialists and Evolutionary Thought, 1870-1920 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), in which he explored the impact of evolutionary theory on American socialist thought and political practice. Additionally, he wrote Class Unknown: Undercover Investigations of American Work and Poverty from the Progressive Era to the Present (NYU Press, 2012), a study of class passing and the construction of ideas about poverty and social class in the modern U.S. An article published in connection with the latter book won the Constance Rourke Prize of the American Studies Association, and the book was named a “Notable Title” by the Society for U.S. Intellectual History. Professor Pittenger is currently at work on a book about the connections between liberal religion and social activism, tentatively titled The Unitarian Left in the Twentieth Century: Liberal Religion and Radical Politics.