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Historians across Borders

Historians across Borders: Writing American History in a Global Age

Nicolas Barreyre
Michael Heale
Stephen Tuck
Cécile Vidal
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 330
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt5vjzhj
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  • Book Info
    Historians across Borders
    Book Description:

    In this stimulating and highly original study of the writing of American history, twenty-four scholars from eleven European countries explore the impact of writing history from abroad. Six distinguished scholars from around the world add their commentaries.Arguing that historical writing is conditioned, crucially, by theplacefrom which it is written, this volume identifies the formative impact of a wide variety of institutional and cultural factors that are commonly overlooked. Examining how American history is written from Europe, the contributors shed light on how history is written in the United States, and, indeed, on the way history is written anywhere. The innovative perspectives included inHistorians across Bordersare designed to reinvigorate American historiography as the rise of global and transnational history is creating a critical need to understand the impact of place on the writing and teaching of history.This book is designed for students in historiography, global and transnational history, and related courses in the United States and abroad, for US historians, and for anyone interested in how historians work.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95805-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface: Location and History
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    NICOLAS BARREYRE, MICHAEL HEALE, STEPHEN TUCK and CÉCILE VIDAL
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
    Nicolas Barreyre, Michael Heale, Stephen Tuck and Cécile Vidal
  5. PART ONE. HISTORIOGRAPHY

    • CHAPTER 1 Watersheds in Time and Place: Writing American History in Europe
      (pp. 3-34)
      MICHAEL HEALE, SYLVIA HILTON, HALINA PARAFIANOWICZ, PAUL SCHOR and MAURIZIO VAUDAGNA

      Promoting American history in Europe has been a thankless and even dangerous business. Charles Kingsley as regius professor of modern history at Cambridge in 1866 endorsed a proposal that Harvard send someone to lecture on American history every other year, but was angrily rebuffed by dons who feared for the monarchy and the Church of England, one thundering that “we shall be favored with a biennial flash of Transatlantic darkness.” For somewhat similar reasons, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia prohibited the teaching of comparative constitutional law in universities. The king of Naples jailed a professor in 1858 for citing George...

  6. PART TWO. STRUCTURES AND CONTEXT

    • CHAPTER 2 Using the American Past for the Present: European Historians and the Relevance of Writing American History
      (pp. 37-55)
      TIBOR FRANK, MARTIN KLIMKE and STEPHEN TUCK

      That writing about the past is interwoven with the demands of the present is something of a truism. But how each historian seeks to make, or not make, the connection, and how, in turn, this affects her or his research interests and writing style clearly varies—and seemingly marks one of the more significant differences between U.S. historians from the United States and their counterparts in Europe. To the eyes of many European scholars (of the United States), the American style is the openness and frequency with which historians make explicit links between past and present. By contrast, European writing...

    • CHAPTER 3 Institutions, Careers, and the Many Paths of U.S. History in Europe
      (pp. 56-74)
      MAX EDLING, VINCENT MICHELOT, JÖRG NAGLER, SANDRA SCANLON and IRMINA WAWRZYCZEK

      Do institutions shape historical scholarship? Insofar as there are collective trends in the history scholars write, to what extent do the institutional settings they work in influence their path? When we talk about historiography, we generally approach historical work as an individual pursuit—which it is for a large part. Collective trends are explored as a matter of intellectual fashions, historical schools and traditions, or political movements. All these we acknowledge readily as the main stuff of our profession. Yet in this essay we would like to explore beyond those purely intellectual dimensions of the historical craft and examine the...

    • CHAPTER 4 Straddling Intellectual Worlds: Positionality and the Writing of American History
      (pp. 75-92)
      NICOLAS BARREYRE, MANFRED BERG and SIMON MIDDLETON

      “It takes a foreigner to clear the air of cant,” Jackson Lears wrote in his review of Amanda Foreman’s book on the American Civil War. Adopting the British perspective, Lears argued, Foreman captures the full complexity of the war, moving beyond the limitations of nationalist narratives of moral triumph and describing the confusion, fear, and futility of a war that very nearly ended in defeat for the North. The noting of an outside perspective is not unusual when non-American scholars publish from outside the United States but for its academic market. Sometimes, as in Lears on Foreman, it is counted...

  7. PART THREE. INTERNATIONALIZATION(S) OF U.S. HISTORY

    • CHAPTER 5 Writing American History from Europe: The Elusive Substance of the Comparative Approach
      (pp. 95-117)
      SUSANNA DELFINO and MARCUS GRÄSER

      During the past twenty-odd years, the growing popularity of Atlantic, transnational, and global history, together with other perspectives in historical writing such ashistoire croiséeand entangled history, seemed to herald the demise of what had come to be seen as a rather limiting, “traditional” comparative approach to the study of history. The accompanying debate, revealing the diversity of attitudes and concerns held by European historians of several nationalities, dramatically exposed the elusive substance of this approach and suggested the need to reach a rigorous definition of the method and scope of comparative history vis-à-vis the newer, more fashionable ones.¹...

    • CHAPTER 6 American Foreign Relations in European Perspectives: Geopolitics and the Writing of History
      (pp. 118-140)
      HANS KRABBENDAM, PAULINE PERETZ, MARIO DEL PERO and HELLE PORSDAM

      Although the United States and Europe have no common borders, they have always shared a sense of historical proximity—which has been “translated,” at one point or another, into wars and alliances, migrations, intellectual exchanges, and trade. Yet more and more, Europe is disappearing from the picture, losing relevance and centrality in the American representation of the world. Americans are more interested, geopolitically and academically, in other regions, such as Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. What this means is that the geopolitical background from which European scholars are writing is deeply asymmetrical: since the fall of the Berlin...

    • CHAPTER 7 Location and the Conceptualization of Historical Frameworks: Early American History and Its Multiple Reconfigurations in the United States and in Europe
      (pp. 141-162)
      TREVOR BURNARD and CÉCILE VIDAL

      The complex phenomena of globalization that the world has been experiencing have encouraged historians in the past twenty years to address and to problematize the issue of spatial scale. A genuine spatial turn is appearing among historians with a new interest in space and territory.¹ This has led to the multiplication of intense debates on transnational and national history and to thinking about various alternative scales of analysis and kinds of history that could replace or complement national history: global or world history, connected history, comparative history. Born of a desire to escape a long-lasting exceptionalist bias of U.S. historians...

  8. PART FOUR. PERSPECTIVES FROM ELSEWHERE

    • CHAPTER 8 Positionality, Ambidexterity, and Global Frames
      (pp. 165-173)
      THOMAS BENDER

      Beyond reframing American history, the La Pietra project (1997–2000) for internationalizing its practice included an aspiration to advance the role of scholars working outside the United States.¹ Whether or not the La Pietra meetings had much to do with it, transnational and global framings of American history have flourished beyond anything the participants could have imagined. But the greater incorporation of foreign scholars and their scholarship, which the participants (one-third of whom were Americanists working outside the United States) strongly desired, has not been realized to the degree envisioned or hoped for. Of course, the number of books and...

    • CHAPTER 9 Reflections from Russia
      (pp. 174-180)
      IVAN KURILLA

      Russia occupies an unusual position with respect to the European historiography of the United States. First, put bluntly, there is the question of whether it belongs to Europe as Europe is usually understood.

      Russia is an Asian country as well as a European one, belonging, for example, to the Eurasian Economic Community. Russian scholars have at times been regarded as part of European academia and at other times not, such as during the Cold War. So do Russian historians of the North American colonies and the United States belong to the community of scholars discussed in this book, or do...

    • CHAPTER 10 Doing U.S. History in Australia: A Comparative Perspective
      (pp. 181-188)
      IAN TYRRELL

      The chapters in this volume show the richness, complexity, and depth of European historiography on the United States and demonstrate in subtle ways how location and perspective still matter in the interpretation of U.S. history. The context of researching in Australia is vastly different in many ways from that in Europe, but there are some underlying commonalities. In the first section of this essay, I outline the context of the social production of historical scholarship in Australia. In the second section, I compare Australian and European historiography of American history to draw out presences and absences in the European case....

    • CHAPTER 11 Viewing American History from Japan: The Potential of Comparison
      (pp. 189-197)
      NATSUKI ARUGA

      As a Japanese historian of the United States, I have an abiding preoccupation: what meaning does my work have in mainstream historiography, predominantly written by U.S. historians? This book directly confronts this concern and leads me to the conclusion that foreign scholars can indeed make a contribution to the field of American history. Thus encouraged, I argue further that foreignness, while lacking an ingrained native perspective, can nevertheless be a useful tool for uncovering aspects that have been overlooked.

      Before laying out this argument, I will briefly discuss the development of American history and its present state in Japan in...

    • CHAPTER 12 Not Quite at Home: Writing American History in Denmark
      (pp. 198-205)
      DAVID E. NYE

      Scandinavian historians were seldom much concerned with the United States before World War II, and in Denmark only a few scattered courses were first offered in the 1930s.¹ The field developed slowly after 1945, stimulated by the Fulbright Program.² No American historians lived permanently in Denmark before the 1980s, although several came temporarily on exchanges. For decades, these visiting Americans and a few Danes taught U.S. history primarily in departments of English and seldom in history or political science departments. A Danish Center for American Studies was almost established in 1970 at Århus University, but antipathy to the Vietnam War...

    • CHAPTER 13 American History in the Shadow of Empire: A Plea for Marginality
      (pp. 206-214)
      FRANÇOIS FURSTENBERG

      The international expansion of U.S. history in the past two decades presents both opportunities and risks to American historians outside the United States. Enormous credit goes to those who have led the charge, including Thomas Bender, David Thelen, Ian Tyrrell, and Bernard Bailyn. All have worked to broaden not just the intellectual but also the institutional range of American history. All have also thought about vexing issues such as translation, curricula, conferences, and journal publishing. Their impact has been tremendous and salutary.

      If exceptionalist approaches long positioned the United States as not just unique but also outside history—a nation...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 215-290)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 291-294)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 295-298)
  12. Index
    (pp. 299-308)