Can National History Be De-Provincialized?

U.S. History Textbook Controversies in the 1940s and 1990s

in Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society

This article examines two incidents of textbook controversy in the United States in the course of the last half-century. First, it addresses history's historical relationship to the modern nation-state and nationalism. How does that relationship, and the particular way it is understood, limit the boundaries of history, particularly the contest over whether American history ought to be taught as selfcontained and exceptionalist or taught within a larger global context? Second, it addresses the presence of what could be called a historical essentialism or even historical fundamentalism in textbook controversies. The article concludes with an examination of the increasingly political character of the textbook approval and adoption process, as well as the role of publishers and professional historians in the process.