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Thinkers and Dreamers

Thinkers and Dreamers: Historical Essays in Honour of Carl Berger

Gerald Friesen
Doug Owram
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Thinkers and Dreamers
    Book Description:

    Thinkers and Dreamershonours Carl C. Berger, professor of Canadian history at the University of Toronto for more than forty years and author of influential works on Canadian intellectual history. In this collection, Professor Berger's colleagues and former students explore the currents of intellectual life in North America since the mid-nineteenth century.

    Broad in scope, the essays range in content from a commentary on works in intellectual history to analyses of the development of particular disciplines and distinctive cultural institutions. Several of the contributions provide sharp critiques of historical thought, including a discussion of professional scholarship and an analysis of the field of intellectual history. Others address issues that combine institutional and cultural history, such as an examination of Victorian Canada and a discussion of immigration and citizenship. These varied reflections aptly convey Berger's contributions to the study of Canadian history.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9016-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)
    Doug Owram and Gerald Friesen

    The impact of Carl Berger on the development of Canadian intellectual history has been profound. For some, including the editors and many of the contributors to this volume, the influence began in graduate school. For others, it came through his writings and the way in which they affected both teaching and research in subsequent decades. Nor was his influence restricted to specialists within intellectual history. Works likeThe Sense of Power: Studies in the Ideas of Canadian Imperialism 1867–1914 (1970)andThe Writing of Canadian History: Aspects of English Canadian Historical Writing 1900 to 1970 (1976, 1986)became standards...

  4. 1 Carl Berger: Ironic Man as Historian
    (pp. 13-30)
    Ramsay Cook

    Modern Canadian intellectual history, in English, takes most of its inspiration and approach from Carl Berger whose work, since the 1970s, has defined the field and set its standards. Earlier work, for the most part, confined itself to exploring the ideas of politicians, the opinions of journalists, and sometimes historiography. Berger moved beyond the ideas of individuals to an examination of themes and ideologies formulated by groups of thinkers and popularizers: imperialists, historians, naturalists, scientists, and other prominent academic figures. Although ideas were central to his studies, he always insisted that both individual biographical details and general sociocultural context were...

  5. Historiography

    • 2 Engaging History: Historians, Storytelling, and Self
      (pp. 33-52)
      A.B. McKillop

      Carl Berger’s major works,The Sense of Power(1970) andThe Writing of Canadian History(1976), resemble Hegel’s Owl of Minerva, for they took flight at the apogee of their subjects’ influence. We come to understand only after the fact.The Sense of Powertold the story of competing visions of English-Canadian nationalism – ‘visions of grandeur,’ as Berger had called his doctoral dissertation. But before the last reviews of the book were in, the meta-narratives on which such notions of nationalism in Canada were based had come into disarray; ‘limited identities’ became the mantra of Canadian historians in the 1970s,...

    • 3 Beyond the Search for Intellectuals: On the Paucity of Paradigms in the Writing of Canadian Intellectual History
      (pp. 53-90)
      Michael Gauvreau

      Assessing the state of the sub-discipline of Canadian intellectual history at the end of the 1980s, Doug Owram observed that after two decades of development, the leading works in the field ‘assumed that it was possible to talk of a coherent body of national Canadian intellectual history.’ However, he noted in the same breath the growing disjuncture between intellectual history and the wider field of social history in both English-speaking Canada and Quebec which had, ‘to a degree which may be unique, turned its back upon the concept of a single unifying national history.’¹ Although intellectual history stood well within...

  6. History

    • 4 ‘Nebulous Penumbra’: James Mark Baldwin and the Borderlands of Psychology
      (pp. 93-125)
      Marlene Shore

      In his autobiography, written during his exile in France, James Mark Baldwin, who had been Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Toronto from 1889 to 1893, reminisced about his boyhood days. They were set, he said, ‘in a sort of nebulous penumbra, a misty circle, in which appears the old home at Columbia [South Carolina].’ He was born there in 1861 to parents of Connecticut Yankee stock. He remembered, in particular, the mockingbird in the garden where he played amid exotic plants with his two brothers: its voice haunted his boyhood images and stimulated moods within him that...

    • 5 Sir Andrew Macphail and the Pen and Pencil Club of Montreal
      (pp. 126-143)
      Ian Ross Robertson

      The present author’s interest in Sir Andrew Macphail began in the most embryonic way as a small child during the early 1950s with glimpses from a moving car of stately granite pillars, approximately four metres in height, at the end of a lane on a scenic clay road in southeastern Prince Edward Island. Those pillars had come from the ruins of the Macdonald Engineering Building at McGill University, and the lane led to Macphail’s then-deserted family home. Only fourteen years old, the Engineering Building had been the victim of a devastating fire in 1907, and the pillars were transported by...

    • 6 Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club: A Public History Perspective
      (pp. 144-162)
      Danielle Hamelin

      St George’s Hall, a historic building located in downtown Toronto, is significant in a national context as the home, since 1920, of the Arts and Letters Club. Founded in 1908 by a group of men working in or interested in the arts, the Club brought together individuals from a variety of disciplines — painters, writers, musicians, architects and actors, among others — as well as patrons of the arts. St George’s Hall was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2007, because of its role as a gathering place for artists and patrons of the arts, as an important venue for...

    • 7 Before the Citizenship Act: Confronting Canadian Citizenship in the House of Commons, 1900–1947
      (pp. 163-189)
      Barry Ferguson

      Among Carl Berger’s major contributions to Canadian historical writing was that he enlivened and recast the subject of nationalism.The Sense of Powershowed not only how extensive and extravagant Canadian thinking about imperialism and nationalism were but also how much popular political concern there was over nationhood and nationality. His book stimulated a long-running and probably inexhaustible examination by historians about the meaning of Canada’s imperial ties and nationalist movements.¹ The imperialist-nationalists that Berger studied were eager to project major roles for Canada both within the British Empire and among nations. They also explored the legal and political status...

    • 8 Modernist Blues: Performing Race in the Harlem Renaissance
      (pp. 190-222)
      David Monod

      According to the nineteenth-century essayist John Foster all successful people had a duty to maintain a record of their achievements. This record should not ‘be composed by small daily or weekly accumulations ... but [should be made] at certain considerable intervals, as at the end of each year, or any other measure of time that is ample enough for some definable alteration to have taken place in the [individual’s] character or attainment.’¹ To Foster, the memoir was a way of ordering the messiness of human life and harmonizing it with the classificatory systems of the Linnean society, the scientific exposition...

  7. History and Historiography

    • 9 Progress, Science, and Religion: Exploring Victorian Thought in Canada
      (pp. 225-244)
      Doug Owram

      Carl Berger probably did more than any Canadian historian before his time to get behind the clichés and assess the ideas, culture, and enthusiasms of what Walter Houghton once termed ‘the Victorian mind.’ Berger’s first book,The Sense of Power, was not just a study of imperialism but a study of ‘the intellectual background out of which it grew.’² This led him to dissect the arguments, values, and rationalizations of one group of Victorians about everything from the nation, to destiny, to notions of freedom and social order. His subsequent works continued to uncover patterns of Victorian intellectuals, popular culture,...

    • 10 Cultural Diversity in Prairie Canada and the Writing of National History
      (pp. 245-268)
      Gerald Friesen

      Developments in historical writing are related to changes in society, as Carl Berger demonstrated inThe Writing of Canadian History. This essay takes Berger’s work, and his special interest in the history of the Canadian Prairies, as a spur to consider the relations between Prairie social change and the writing of national history. The essay begins with a family story, that of a Japanese-Canadian family expelled from coastal British Columbia during the Second World War. It then situates this family history in historical writing and archival practice on the Prairies during the twentieth century, outlining the changing intellectual approaches to...

  8. Millennial Reflections

    • 11 A New Era of History
      (pp. 271-308)
      Alan Bowker

      Some time around the year 2000 humanity entered a new historical era. This was the result of a combination of important developments in the late twentieth century: advances in information and communications; political changes including the end of the Cold War; global economic integration; social change including the gender revolution; pressure on the global ecology; and spectacular advances in computer science, physics, biology, and a range of related sciences and technologies. Together, these and other changes fundamentally altered our perception of human nature, our world, God, and the role of the individual in society. We are approaching a new plateau...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 309-312)
  10. Index
    (pp. 313-319)