In a blog post earlier this month, “From Cultural History to the History of Knowledge”, Johan Östling and David Larsson Heidenblad examine the attraction and potential utility of the history of knowledge as an historiographical approach. Particularly helpful is their attempt to tease out its relationship to cultural history.
From Jeremy Adelman, “What is Global History Now?,” Aeon, March 2, 2017: “Global history preferred a scale that reflected its cosmopolitan self-yearnings. It also implicitly created what the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild in Strangers in Their Own Land (2016) called ‘empathy walls’ between globe-trotting liberals and locally rooted provincials. Going global often meant losing contact with – to borrow another of her bons mots – ‘deep stories’ of resentment about loss of and threat to local attachments. The older patriotic narratives had tethered people to a sense of bounded unity.… Read more Global History’s Blind Spot →
This is an older critique, and I agree there has been much improvement. Still, negative examples abound, making this short piece as worthwhile as ever.
One of the new research focuses at the GHI since our director, Simone Lässig, began her tenure last October is the history of knowledge.1 The study of knowledge in its… Read more A Few Notes on the History of Knowledge →
Technology, institutions, mentalities and practices change at different rates. Technology, especially in the age of what has been called ‘the institutionalization of innovation’, changes rapidly. Society and its institutions change more slowly, a result of what has been called institutional ‘inertia’. Last to change are mentalities and practices, illustrating the presence of the past in the world of today.
— Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia (Polity, 2012), Kindle ed., chap. 9, “Chronologies of Knowledge.”
I have had to withdraw from an interesting handbook project because of excessive overlap with two other chapters. My topic was on the matrix of gender, war, and nation in… Read more Historiographical Impasse →
I recently noticed that the English translation of Der Schlieffenplan: Analysen und Dokumente, edited by Hans Ehlert, Michael Epkenhans, and Gerhard P. Groß, is now available from the University… Read more Terence Zuber, Military History, and Culture →
At a recent lecture on the Great War, Roger Chickering said, “I’m not a military historian.”1 The phrase stuck in my mind because he said it two more times during the course of the lecture and discussion. I’m sure he was trying to avoid letting the discussion get sidetracked by narrower debates about military operations, which was fair enough in the context of his talk about a series of common structural elements in Germany’s, France’s, and Great Britain’s wars. Nonetheless, his words bothered me. Of course, there was nothing surprising… Read more ‘Not a Military Historian’ →
I recently reviewed an interesting anthropological study by Milena Veenis entitled Material Fantasies: Expectations of the Western Consumer World among East Germans (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press in cooperation with the Foundation for the History of Technology, 2012) for the Dutch Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis (Journal of Social and Economic History). The two-page review is in English and is openly available on the web at https://www.tseg.nl/articles/abstract/10.18352/tseg.301/.
Last week I read Jörg Muth, Command Culture.1 The book’s main subject is about training U.S. officers for war, and it draws on the German officer corps in the interwar… Read more Command Culture by Jörg Muth →
In a recent German History forum, Paul Lerner offers an interesting aside: “I used the medical Sonderweg as more or less a straw man in my 2003 book on German psychiatry, but I found that even as I refuted it, the need to explain the unique path of German medicine kept arising.”1 These words speak to me, because I used Groener’s biography to refute the rather untenable interpretation of a “feudalized” bourgeoisie in the Kaiserreich, even in the officer corps, but taking down that straw man hasn’t offered a satisfying… Read more Refuting Straw Men and Explaining What Happened →
When writing my dissertation, I was forced to confront Terence Zuber’s claims that Wilhelm Groener and others had “invented” the Schlieffen Plan, and I wrote a section on the… Read more Terence Zuber’s Image of War and the Schlieffen Plan Debate →
My research deals with war and society, while my editorial work addresses mainly consumption history. One might think these are two different worlds, but I’m coming to doubt the validity of such assumptions. Indeed, the subfields of military and business history have a lot of similarities. Most obviously, they are both interested in organizations, knowledge, experts, and elites—among other things. They are also both informed by a tension between the historian’s ethos to understand the past for its own sake and the practitioner’s desire to learn lessons from that past… Read more Military History and Business History →
When confronted with history too narrowly conceived or framed, I often think back to one graduate course I took, “Issues in British Literature,” which challenged me on a number of… Read more Learning to Synthesize History →
These stereoptic cards offer a tale of war reduced to two basic elements: soldiers on parade at home followed by the unburied corpses of soldiers on the battlefield. How should… Read more Stereoptic Views of the Great War →