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Doing Recent History

On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History That Talks Back

Claire Bond Potter

Recent history—the very phrase seems like an oxymoron. Yet historians have been writing accounts of the recent past since printed history acquired a modern audience, and in the last several years interest in recent topics has grown exponentially. With subjects as diverse as Walmart and disco, and personalities as disparate as Chavez and Schlafly, books about the history of our own time have become arguably the most exciting and talked-about part of the discipline.

Despite this rich tradition and growing popularity, historians have engaged in little discussion about the specific methodological, political, and ethical issues related to writing about the recent past. The twelve essays in this collection explore the challenges of writing histories of recent events where visibility is inherently imperfect, hindsight and perspective are lacking, and historiography is underdeveloped.

Those who write about events that have taken place since 1970 encounter exciting challenges that are both familiar and foreign to scholars of a more distant past, including suspicions that their research is not historical enough, negotiation with living witnesses who have a very strong stake in their own representation, and the task of working with new electronic sources. Contributors to this collection consider a wide range of these challenges. They question how sources like television and video games can be better utilized in historical research, explore the role and regulation of doing oral histories, consider the ethics of writing about living subjects, discuss how historians can best navigate questions of privacy and copyright law, and imagine the possibilities that new technologies offer for creating transnational and translingual research opportunities. Doing Recent History offers guidance and insight to any researcher considering tackling the not-so-distant past.

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Droysen and the Prussian School of History

Robert Southard

The Prussian School of History first predicted and advocated, then celebrated and defended, the unification of Germany by Prussia. Experts in German historiography and the history of German liberalism have often complained about the lack of a book, in any language, that traces the origins and explains the ideas of this school of history. Here is that book.

Robert Southard finds that, for the Prussian School, history had an agenda. These historians generally expected history to complete its main tasks in their own time and country. The outcome of their politics was, really, an "end of history" -- not a cessation to historical occurrences, but a cessation of onward historical movement because the historical process had already achieved its long-term, beneficent purposes.

Leading us through the intricacies of important but untranslated works of J. G. Droysen, Max Duncker, Rudolph Hayn, and Heinrich von Sybel, Southard demonstrates their belief that the historical sequence was a continual unfolding of God's plan. Indispensable for those interested in the history of German historical writing, this book also has major implications for understanding the history of political liberalism.

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The Dunning School

Historians, Race, and the Meaning of Reconstruction

edited by John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery. foreword by Eric Foner

From the late nineteenth century until World War I, a group of Columbia University students gathered under the mentorship of the renowned historian William Archibald Dunning (1857--1922). Known as the Dunning School, these students wrote the first generation of state studies on the Reconstruction -- volumes that generally sympathized with white southerners, interpreted radical Reconstruction as a mean-spirited usurpation of federal power, and cast the Republican Party as a coalition of carpetbaggers, freedmen, scalawags, and former Unionists.

Edited by the award-winning historian John David Smith and J. Vincent Lowery, The Dunning School focuses on this controversial group of historians and its scholarly output. Despite their methodological limitations and racial bias, the Dunning historians' writings prefigured the sources and questions that later historians of the Reconstruction would utilize and address. Many of their pioneering dissertations remain important to ongoing debates on the broad meaning of the Civil War and Reconstruction and the evolution of American historical scholarship.

This groundbreaking collection of original essays offers a fair and critical assessment of the Dunning School that focuses on the group's purpose, the strengths and weaknesses of its constituents, and its legacy. Squaring the past with the present, this important book also explores the evolution of historical interpretations over time and illuminates the ways in which contemporary political, racial, and social questions shape historical analyses.

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Economics and the Historian

Thomas G. Rawski

These essays provide a thorough introduction to economics for historians. The authors, all eminent scholars, show how to use economic thinking, economic models, and economic methods to enrich historical research. They examine such vital issues as long-term trends, institutions, labor—including an engaging dialogue between a labor historian and a labor economist—international affairs, and money and banking. Scholars and teachers of history will welcome this volume as an introduction and guide to economics, a springboard for their own research, and a lively and provocative source of collateral reading for students at every level.

The combined research experience of these authors encompasses many varieties of economics and covers a kaleidoscopic array of nations, subjects, and time periods. All are expert in presenting the insights and complexities of economics to nonspecialist audiences.

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Essays on Twentieth-Century History

In the sub-field of world history, there has been a surprising paucity of thinking and writing about how to approach and conceptualize the long twentieth century from the 1870s through the early 2000s. The historiographic essays collected in Essays on Twentieth Century History will go a long way to filling that lacuna.

 

Each contribution covers a key theme and one or more critical sub-fields in twentieth century global history. Chapters address migration patterns, the impact of world wars, transformations in gender and urbanization, as well as environmental transitions. All are written by leading historians in each of the sub-fields represented, and each is intended to provide an introduction to the literature, key themes, and debates that have proliferated around the more recent historical experience of humanity.

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Faces of Béxar

Early San Antonio and Texas

Jesús F. De la Teja

Faces of Béxar showcases the finest work of Jesús F. de la Teja, a foremost authority on Spanish colonial Mexico and Texas through the Republic. These essays trace the arc of the author’s career over a quarter of a century. A new bibliographic essay on early San Antonio and Texas history rounds out the collection, showing where Tejano history has been, is now, and where it might go in the future.

For de la Teja, the Tejano experience in San Antonio is a case study of a community in transition, one moved by forces within and without. From its beginnings as an imperial outpost to becoming the center of another, newer empire—itself in transition—the social, political, and military history of San Antonio was central to Texas history, to say nothing of the larger contexts of Mexican and American history. Faces of Béxar explores this and more, including San Antonio's origins as a military settlement, the community's economic ties to Saltillo, its role in the fight for Mexican independence, and the motivations of Tejanos for joining Anglo Texans in the struggle for independence.

Taken together, Faces of Béxar stands to be a milestone in the growing literature on Tejano history.

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Faithful Account of the Race

African American Historical Writing in Nineteenth-Century America

Stephen G. Hall

The civil rights and black power movements expanded popular awareness of the history and culture of African Americans. But, as Stephen Hall observes, African American authors, intellectuals, ministers, and abolitionists had been writing the history of the black experience since the 1800s. With this book, Hall recaptures and reconstructs a rich but largely overlooked tradition of historical writing by African Americans.

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Fordham

A History and Memoir, Revised Edition

Raymond Schroth

Fordham University is the quintessential American-Catholic institution-and one now looked upon as among the best Catholic universities in the country. Its story is also the story of New York, especially the Bronx, andFordham's commitment to the city during its rise, fall, and rebirth. It's a story of Jesuits, soldiers, alumni who fought in World Wars, chaplains, teachers, and administrators who made bold moves and big mistakes, ofpresidents who thought small and those who had vision. And of the first women, students and faculty, who helped bring Fordham into the 20th century. Finally it's the story of an institution's attempt to keep its Jesuitand Catholic identity as it strives for leadership in a competitive world. Combining authoritative history and fascinating anecdotes, Schroth offers an engaging account of Fordham's one hundred thirrty-seven years-here, updated, revised, and expanded to cover the new presidency of Joseph M. McShane, S.J., and the challenges Fordham faces in the new century.

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Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory

John Cimprich

At the now-peaceful spot of Tennessee's Fort Pillow State Historic Area, a horrific incident in the nation's bloodiest war occurred on April 12, 1864. Just as a high bluff in the park offers visitors a panoramic view of the Mississippi River, John Cimprich's absorbing book affords readers a new vantage on the American Civil War as viewed through the lens of the Confederate massacre of unionist and black Federal soldiers at Fort Pillow. Cimprich covers the entire history of Fort Pillow, including its construction by Confederates, its capture and occupation by federals, the massacre, and ongoing debates surrounding that affair. He sets the scene for the carnage by describing the social conflicts in federally occupied areas between secessionists and unionists as well as between blacks and whites. In a careful reconstruction of the assault itself, Cimprich balances vivid firsthand reports with a judicious narrative and analysis of events. He shows how Major General Nathan B. Forrest attacked the garrison with a force outnumbering the Federals roughly 1,500 to 600, and a breakdown of Confederate discipline resulted. The 65 percent death toll for black unionists was approximately twice that for white unionists, and Cimprich concludes that racism was at the heart of the Fort Pillow massacre. Fort Pillow, a Civil War Massacre, and Public Memory serves as a case study for several major themes of the Civil War: the great impact of military experience on campaigns, the hardships of military life, and the trend toward a more ruthless conduct of war. The first book to treat the fort's history in full, it provides a valuable perspective on the massacre and, through it, on the war and the world in which it occurred.

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Framing Public Memory

Edited by Kendall R. Phillips, with contributions from Stephen Howard Browne, Ba

A collection of essays by prominent scholars from many disciplines on the construction of public memories.


The study of public memory has grown rapidly across numerous disciplines in recent years, among them American studies, history, philosophy, sociology, architecture, and communications. As scholars probe acts of collective remembrance, they have shed light on the cultural processes of memory. Essays contained in this volume address issues such as the scope of public memory, the ways we forget, the relationship between politics and memory, and the material practices of memory.

Stephen Browne's contribution studies the alternative to memory erasure, silence, and forgetting as posited by Hannah Arendt in her classic Eichmann in Jerusalem. Rosa Eberly writes about the Texas tower shootings of 1966, memories of which have been minimized by local officials. Charles Morris examines public reactions to Larry Kramer's declaration that
Abraham Lincoln was homosexual, horrifying the guardians of Lincoln's
public memory. And Barbie Zelizer considers the impact on public memory
of visual images, specifically still photographs of individuals about to perish (e.g., people falling from the World Trade Center) and the sense of communal loss they manifest.

Whether addressing the transitory and mutable nature of collective memories over time or the ways various groups maintain, engender, or resist those memories, this work constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of how public memory has been and might continue to be framed.


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