Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Founding Fathers

I’ve been derelict at posting here lately (what else is the new new?) but even worse about keeping up at Cliopatria. Happily, we just had an online symposium over there, about Barry Gewen’s “Forget the Founding Fathers,” an essay on trends in American historiography that appeared in this Sunday’s New York Times. That gave me a nice excuse to get back on the tricycle and try not to look too shallow next to heavyweights like Caleb, Ralph, KC, and Jon.

Gewen’s essay offers a high-speed summary of American historiography over the last fifty years. He then predicts a decline in the current vogue for fat, worshipful biographies of the Founding Fathers, and proposes a more internationalized American history as a goal. Most of us at Cliopatria applaud that sentiment, though some of us want to go even farther than Gewen in getting out from under the nation-state as the sole unit of historical analysis. And none of us, being typical historians, are very convinced that this globalization thing is really all that new.

My thoughts and those of my eminent colleagues await your comments at Cliopatria.