Monday, February 15, 2010

Disappearing History, Reappearing History

Randall Stephens

A recent TNR review, NYT essay, and a piece in the Chronicle shed light on the contested nature of history and memory here and across the pond. Mostly dark business. On the bright side, long-lost reels from the dark classic Metropolis are finally being shown. Der Spiegel reports on the recovery of the reels from the 1927 Fritz Lang film. Berliners recently previewed the restored classic. Turns out that this more than 20 minutes of extra material alters the story. (Hat tip to my wife Beth on the latter.)

Mark Mazower, "History's Isle," The New Republic, February 3, 2010

Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and the European Continent
by Richard J. Evans

The effects of a great financial crisis ripple in many directions and last long. After a decade of expansion, for example, austere times lie ahead for British universities, with deep cuts on the horizon. There will be consequences for British scholarship and British culture. Richard Evans’s new study of the historical profession in Britain serves as a timely reminder both of what Britain’s historians have achieved over the past half-century, and what may be lost if their legacy is squandered. In particular, Evans celebrates his colleagues’ outward-looking mindset and their love-affairs with Europe, an engagement that is striking when compared to the introversion of their peers across the Channel, and—though he does not come out and say so—with the parochialism of contemporary British political and cultural life. read on >>>

Russell Shorto, "How Christian Were the Founders?" New York Times, February 11, 2010

The Christian “truth” about America’s founding has long been taught in Christian schools, but not beyond. Recently, however — perhaps out of ire at what they see as an aggressive, secular, liberal agenda in Washington and perhaps also because they sense an opening in the battle, a sudden weakness in the lines of the secularists — some activists decided that the time was right to try to reshape the history that children in public schools study. Succeeding at this would help them toward their ultimate goal of reshaping American society. As Cynthia Dunbar, another Christian activist on the Texas board, put it, “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next.” read on >>>

John Castellucci, "The Night They Burned Ranum's Papers," Chronicle Review, February 14, 2010

At about 2:30 a.m. on May 22, 1968, as New York City police entered Hamilton Hall, on Columbia University's Morningside Heights campus, to clear it of demonstrators, files belonging to Orest A. Ranum, an associate professor of history, were ransacked, and papers documenting more than 10 years of research were burned. . . .

The papers were irreplaceable. They dated back to Ranum's time as a student at the University of Minnesota, where he got his Ph.D. in history. The notes were going to lay the basis for a textbook on early modern European history that he had been commissioned to write for a series edited by the British historian Sir John Plumb. read on >>>

Siobhán Dowling, "Back to the Future in Berlin: Restored 'Metropolis' Comes Home," Der Spiegel, February 13, 2010

After 83 years, Fritz Lang's Sci-Fi classic "Metropolis" has returned to Berlin in its full glory. On Friday night 2,000 fans braved the snowy weather to watch the restored classic at the Brandenburg Gate. It took restorers a year to repair the damage to the newly discovered scenes. They say the original film was much more complex and interesting than just a sci-fi cult classic. read on >>>

See Roger Ebert on streaming the restored version.

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