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Revisiting: Historians in Historic Times

The propulsive forces of events constantly expose us to historical changes

We are always living through history. And, yet, some weeks indeed feel like decades, some months, we feel the propulsive force of events, knowing they will shape our lives and those of generations to come. Wars, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, are one of those cataclysms.

For historians, though, the current moment is always a culmination. We work for years, often decades, through extensive and varied source material, both primary and secondary, revise, refine and workshop our analyses, accumulating an assessment of historical phenomena. The current moment is also almost always appreciative of the work historians have been doing on subjects with seemingly little relevance – until they are all too relevant. As a historian of early America, I’m often reminded that Yale historian Joanne Freeman’s research on violence in the early 19th century US Congress seemed really interesting but not exactly au courant. And then it was.

Over the next months, I’m pulling together a series on “Unreachable/Unwritable Histories.”  There are places and subjects that have been hard to reach or to write about for any number of reasons, but this series focuses on places in crisis - from war or climate disaster - and the scholars there and elsewhere trying to keep history alive.

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Scholarly Kitchen.

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