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Historians across BordersWriting American History in a Global Age$
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Nicolas Barreyre, Michael Heale, Stephen Tuck, and Cecile Vidal

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520279278

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520279278.001.0001

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Using the American Past for the Present

Using the American Past for the Present

European Historians and the Relevance of Writing American History

(p.37) Chapter 2 Using the American Past for the Present
Historians across Borders

Tibor Frank

Martin Klimke

Stephen Tuck

University of California Press

This chapter examines the ways in which political contexts, broadly defined, affect the writing of American history. Historians are often said to project their concerns about contemporary issues in their writing about the past, and while this is true in a broad sense, this chapter argues that political and other current influences affect academic historical writing in a variety of subtle and often overlooked ways. Through a wide array of examples, it explores how local political issues and the way they relate to the wider world play into the interest in U.S. history, the topics scholars study, and the approaches they use. To sustain professional and public support for their activities, for example, European historians need to find something within the American experience that touches a chord with domestic audiences. The chapter shows how concern about relating history to the present is contingent upon local contexts, as well as upon traditions within national academies.

Keywords:   relevance, present day, political, educational, audiences, self-perception, image, model, westernization

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