Monday, January 17, 2011

January 2011 Issue of Historically Speaking Online

Randall Stephens

Browse the January issue of Historically Speaking on Project Muse from your college or university computer. Leo Ribuffo's lead essay in the issue gives "Twenty Suggestions for Studying the Right Now that Studying the Right Is Trendy." A little bit from that:

There is a boom in the study of the Right, broadly conceived. Subtitles of books that not so long ago would have ended with “and the persistence of capitalist hegemony” or “and the pervasiveness of status anxiety” now end with “and the rise of conservatism.”

This is the second such boom since World War II. The first discovery of American conservatism involved many of our favorite straw-man targets, including Richard Hofstadter, Daniel Bell, and Seymour Martin Lipset. Typically those scholars involved in the first discovery of the Right traced the story back at least to the Constitution. Typically, too, they paid close attention to government, economics, nationalism, foreign policy, and war at the expense of race and gender. Despite their
mistakes, the best of these self-consciously centrist historians and social scientists were very smart and worthy of serious engagement.

Moreover, the intellectual cohort of the first discoverers extended beyond the “vital center” (in Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s famous phrase) to include the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills and sometime conservative political scientist Clinton Rossiter. Most important were the rival grand narratives of American history offered by William Appleman Williams in The Contours of American History (1961) and Schlesinger everywhere. When I make this point to newly minted experts involved in the second discovery of the Right, the usual response, accompanied by a blank look, is something like: “I don’t know what you mean. I’m writing a thick description of fifty Birchers in Binghamton.”

The first discovery of the Right petered out during the High Sixties. There was nonetheless an in-between cohort of about forty historians, most now in our sixties, who did terrific work. Names will be provided on request—except for one scholar who deserves to be singled out for praise: George Nash. . . .

Hofstadter’s catch phrase “paranoid style” should be buried in a deep hole with nuclear waste. When coined in the mid-1960s this phrase encapsulated a comprehensive social-psychological theory of politics in which rational people defended—as they always should defend—the sensible center against status-anxious outsiders and temperamental oddballs on the right and left “extremes.” The conceptual validity of this politically self-serving formula has been debunked countless times, not least because it was glibly used to discredit radical critics of the Cold War and accompanying hot wars. But to Hofstadter’s credit, “paranoid style” was part of his creative effort to use psychology to interpret political behavior. Nowadays “paranoid style” has sunk to the level of a pure and simple epithet employed whenever radicals, liberals, and progressives panic.>>>

Historically Speaking (January 2011)

Twenty Suggestions for Studying the Right Now that Studying the Right Is Trendy
Leo P. Ribuffo

What Makes Civilization?: An Interview with David Wengrow
Donald A. Yerxa

Questioning the Assumptions of Academic History: A Forum

From Histories to Traditions: A New Paradigm of Pluralism in the Study of the Past
Christopher Shannon

Response to Christopher Shannon
Daniel Wickberg

Liberal History and Historical Style After Virtue
Mark Weiner

Comment on Christopher Shannon
Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

From Histories to Traditions: A Response
Christopher Shannon

The Golden Age of the 'Abbasid Empire
Muslim City Life during the Era of the Great Caliphs
Amira Bennison

An Interview with Amira Bennison
Donald A. Yerxa

For a Classroom Craving Certainties, a Theory of Importance
Ralph Menning

China, the West, and Pearl Buck: An Interview with Hilary Spurling
Randall J. Stephens

Deconstructing the Discourses of Roman Imperialism
David J. Mattingly

Is Mahan Dead?
John T. Kuehn

Religion and the Founding of the United States: An Interview with Thomas Kidd
Randall J. Stephens

Antecedents of Neoconservative Foreign Policy
Paul Gottfried

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