History, Politics, and the American Past: Essays on Methodology

1st Edition

Ari Helo

Routledge
Published March 11, 2020
Reference - 156 Pages - 8 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367857660 - CAT# 348867

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Summary

History, Politics, and the American Past assesses the connection between historiography and politics in America on the basis of an important methodological distinction between the past and the history written about it.

While necessarily interpreting the past, professional historians and those with a general interest alike remain tempted, consciously or not, to make American history serve their own political and moral views. There is a tendency to impose our present values on the past and sometimes go so far as to believe the past can be changed by present action. In this volume, Ari Helo analyzes examples of this, including metahistorical narratives, presidential speeches, and the occasionally vague rhetoric of the Confederate statue campaigns, before diagnosing the source of doing so and suggesting how we might avoid it. Taking America as its example, the book illuminates essential methodological issues related to history writing while deciphering the complicated relationship of history and politics.

The book will be of interest to scholars and students of American history, historiography, American studies, and cultural studies, providing a vivid account of how to make sense of American history.

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