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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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Historical Writing in the United States

Historical Writing in the United States

(p.473) Chapter 23 Historical Writing in the United States
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Ian Tyrrell

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies American historical writing. In the United States, the legacy of the Progressive historians advocating a pragmatic study of the past in the interests of social and political usefulness was a powerful influence that continued to be evident after the Second World War. This Progressive agenda had flow-on effects that shaped other characteristics of American scholarship. One was recurrent but often misleading debates over conflict versus consensus on the issues of American national character, ideology, and politics; another was flexibility and innovation in interpretation, with receptiveness to new ideas derived from the influence of other humanities and the social sciences; still another was distrust of grand theory, and an instrumental and subordinate attention to historiography. The chapter then offers an outsider’s view of American historiography from the vantage point of Australia, and with a focus on the extra-academic life of American historians, including the development of ‘public history’.

Keywords:   American historical writing, Progressivism, American scholarship, social sciences, grand theory, American historiography, public history

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