This first issue of the second decade of the twenty-first century launches a new occasional series for Historical Refl ections/Réfl exions Historiques: “Historians Reflecting on History and Historical Writing.” The mission of the journal makes this topic particularly appropriate.
Linda E. Mitchell
Empirical, Historical, Cross-Cultural, and Cross-Species Considerations
Social response to age‐gap sex involving minors has become increasingly severe. In the US, non‐coercive acts that might have been punished with probation 30 years ago often lead to decades in prison today. Punishment also increasingly includes civil commitment up to life, as well as scarlet‐letter‐like public registries and onerous residence restrictions for released offenders. Advocates and the general public approve, believing that age‐gap sex with minors is uniquely injurious, pathological, and criminal. Critics argue that public opinion and policy have been shaped by moral panic, consisting of unfounded assumptions and invalid science being uncritically promoted by ideology, media sensationalism, and political pandering. This talk critically examines the basic assumptions and does so using a multi‐perspective approach (empirical, historical, cross‐cultural, cross‐species) to overcome the biases inherent in traditional clinical‐forensic reports. Non‐clinical empirical reviews of age‐gap sex involving minors show claims of intense, pervasive injuriousness to be highly exaggerated. Historical and cross‐cultural reviews show that adult‐adolescent sexual relations have been common and frequently socially integrated in other times and places, indicating that present‐day Western conceptualizations are socially constructed to reflect current social and economic arrangements rather than expressions of a priori truths. Analogous relations in primates are commonplace, non‐pathological, and not infrequently functional, contradicting implicit assumptions of a biologically‐based “trauma response” in humans. It is concluded that, though age‐gap sex involving minors is a significant mismatch for contemporary culture—and this talk therefore does not endorse it—attitudes and social policy concerning it have been driven by an upward‐spiraling moral panic, which itself is immoral in its excessive adverse consequences for individuals and society.
The Archives of the 1920s
Joel T. Rosenthal
The Institute of Historical Research (IHR), University of London, was founded in 1921, largely due to the efforts of A. F. Pollard, professor at University College, a major authority on Tudor History and an active entrepreneur in the world of historical scholarship and organization. Thanks to a recent arrangement of the IHR's archives the story of its founding and its first decade of existence can be told with reference to such in-house issues as who taught—and who attended—the early seminars and who attended the first meeting of the Anglo-American Historical Conference. Pollard envisioned a central clearing house for historical research as an integral part of the university whereby ideas could be exchanged, students introduced to the mysteries of historical research, and questions about the nature of historical projects and inquiry could be answered both through personal communication and in the Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research. Those who use the IHR today benefit from a vision that at the time was novel and unorthodox.
Patrick H. Hutton
Scholarly interest in the topic of nostalgia has come late to discussions of the workings of memory, a popular topic in contemporary historiography, but its moment may at last have arrived, bringing with it perspectives unappreciated a generation ago. As an emotional response to time’s passage, nostalgia has long been viewed with suspicion. From the dawn of the modern age, critics have explained that it plays into life’s illusions, drifting into sentimental idealization of a past on the fast track to obsolescence. From the earliest critical commentaries on its nature in the late seventeenth century, nostalgia has been equated with homesickness, futile longing for lost places, lost times, and lost causes. For the most part, it was diagnosed as a psychological disorder that immobilized individuals susceptible to the tug of its emotions. It was in this guise that discussion of its nature entered the lexicon of medical discourse during the nineteenth century. The impairments of those who suffered from its sadness were real. The remedy was to awaken them to life’s present realities, and so to teach them to adapt with vigor to their own times.
In this article, I explore the dominant narratives about Islam in German history textbooks from the eighteenth century until the present day. I thereby deconstruct a longue durée script with a rather curious pattern. Until the 1980s, textbook narratives about Islam were rooted exclusively in people's historical imagination. Only when the children of Turkish workers entered the classroom did textbook authors try to accommodate knowledge based on real encounters. By addressing the di erent stages of this longue durée script, I enquire into the functions of narratives as they underpinned a German and European "we."
Textbooks in the Context of the
This piece defends the hypothesis that methodologically well-grounded historical textbook research is only possible if one has an understanding of the context in which textbooks acquire meaning. Based on the theory of a “grammar of schooling” (Tyack/Tobin; Cuban), the article develops a concept on the basis of which it is possible to describe particular contexts and the way in which they relate to teaching materials. Textbooks are thus understood as an element of the “grammar of schooling” and, from the perspective of discourse and theory, as a “point of intersection” between discourse and its corresponding teaching practice.
This article discusses the importance of Yiddish for our understanding of European Jewish histories and highlights some of the particularities of using Yiddish materials in historical research and the problems involved in doing so. There is a wealth of Yiddish materials available for historians yet many sources still need to be catalogued and disclosed. At the same time it is often not easy for historians to acquire the necessary linguistic skills to use Yiddish sources in their research, both because of practical reasons and a lack of awareness of the specific linguistic needs of historians. Opening up the field of Yiddish to historians though is very important to understand the rich and varied histories of Europe's Jews better, particularly before the Holocaust.
A Comparative Conceptual Exploration
José María Rosales
Rooted in late seventeenth-century theories of rights, liberal ideas have brought forth since the nineteenth century a full-edged complex of traditions in moral, political, economic, social, and legal thought. Yet in historiographical debates such complexity is often blurred by presenting it under the uniform terms of a canon. Along with other methods, conceptual history is contributing to the rediscovery of liberalism's diversity. This group of articles compiles three conceptual studies on scarcely explored aspects of the history of liberalism in Denmark, Finland, and Hungary—countries whose political past has only occasionally figured in mainstream accounts of European liberalism. This introductory article is a methodological discussion of the rationale and forms in which liberalism's historical diversity is rendered through comparative conceptual research. After reflecting on the limits of the Anglophone history of political thought to grasp the plurality of liberal traditions, the article examines how transnational conceptual histories recast the understanding of liberalism as a concept, theory, ideology, and political movement.
”: the idea that historical forces have led over millennia to a long-term decline in all forms of violence in human societies, lethal and nonlethal. 1 Elias was not naïve. He realized, writing in the 1930s, that Europe was far from a peaceful place and