"If historical scholarship has often proved irrelevant to the world outside university walls, history itself has burst into the public domain. Over the last decade, we have witnessed intense national debates over how to present historic events to a public that attends museums, monitors education in the schools, and gazes at the History Channel. Under these circumstances, historians face the challenge of developing new ways of understanding the past and the place of the past in the present. The essays in this volume explore how scholars have reformulated the study of American history over the past fifteen years and identify new headings for future work."—from the Preface
In The Challenge of American History, Louis Masur brings together a sampling recent scholarship to determine the key issues preoccupying historians of American history and to contemplate the discipline's direction for the future. The 15 summary essays comprising this volume allow professional historians, history teachers, and students to grasp in a convenient and accessible form what historians have been writing about. Arranged in a general chronological order, these essays probe such topics as the age of discovery, colonial American history, emancipation, race and labor history, law and political development, and the nature of historical writing since the 1960s. Additional essays discuss race and gender in colonial as well as modern America, the new paradigms of urban history, religious history, visual culture, public history, the new narrative history, and the meanings of national culture.