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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2020

Writing American History from Europe

Writing American History from Europe

The Elusive Substance of the Comparative Approach

(p.95) Chapter 5 Writing American History from Europe
Historians across Borders

Susanna Delfino

Marcus Gräser

University of California Press

This chapter addresses the long and problematic career of comparative history (including recent international debates about its value) and argues that the respective American and European approaches to transatlantic comparisons have distinctive trajectories. This is illustrated by examining historical and other scholarly writing from the late eighteenth century onward. The chapter offers explanations for the differences between American and European approaches and points out the ways in which these differences reveal something about each nation’s history. While some studies have been explicitly comparative—and the chapter discusses some of these and the new insights offered—much European writing contains an implicit comparative dimension. The chapter also positions comparative history as it is currently practiced in relation to what may seem to be the more fashionable approaches of transnational, histoire croiséée, and global history, but it argues that comparative history should be the basis of every kind of transnational history.

Keywords:   comparative, transatlantic, histoire croisée, historiography, modernization

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