To historians, the intrinsic value of history is self-evident. However, the study of history as an intellectual activity extends beyond the careful reconstruction and critical analysis of the past. For the past seeps into the present: it shapes the identities, perceptions, and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
The Blackwell Companions to American History series tackles major themes, periods and regions of US history. Karen Halttunen, Professor of History and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, is the editor of the latest book in the sequence, this time concerning American cultural history.
The subject of ‘film and history’ has come a long way since the publication of the pioneering The Historian and Film in 1976. In the 1970s historians were preoccupied with the value of film as a primary source for the study of contemporary history, for which reason much of the early work focused on newsreels and documentary films.
Agatha Christie’s 1970 novel Passenger to Frankfurt might seem like an unusual place to start a history of the Children’s Crusade in 1212. To capture the radical youth-culture of the 1960s lying at the heart of her plot, Christie invoked the Children’s Crusade as a familiar symbol of misguided and ultimately dangerous youthful folly.
The Cultural Turn in U.S. History: Past, Present, and Future / eds. James W. Cook, Lawrence B. Glickman, Michael O'Malley
This volume, dedicated to the historian Lawrence W. Levine, was, in the words of its authors, ‘born of our belief that the time is ripe for a broad assessment of U.S. cultural history’.
Reinventing History. The Enlightenment Origins of Ancient History / eds. James Moore, Ian Morris, Andrew J. Bayliss
This is a very interesting volume, which aims to bring together the variety of contexts and genres in which ancient history was employed and studied during the Enlightenment.
The first principle of understanding history, I was taught, is to sympathize with the historical actors, to immerse oneself in their context and perspective.(1) Otherwise, history becomes a fabricated reconstruction – more about the writer's ideology than the events of the past.
‘Earth, earth, do not cover our blood and do not keep silent’.
Contested Histories in Public Space: Memory, Race, and Nation / eds. Daniel Walkowitz, Lisa Maya Knauer
Reading an edited collection of articles can be likened to dining out on a tasting menu: you’re afforded the opportunity to sample broadly but portions can sometimes be relatively puny. A standard serving, like a monograph, provides bulk whereas essays may fire up your appetite yet fail to satiate your hunger.
‘We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong’: Gregory Bateson’s observation summarizes what motivates Keith Jenkins’s latest book.(1) In this collection of essays written and published over the last 15 years (including not only a foreword by Hayden White and an afterword by Alun Munslow, but also responses from Perez Zagorin and Michael C.