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usable past

The Promise and Perils of Popular History

More than any other academic discipline, historians like to imagine ourselves writing for a broad audience. Unlike most other academic disciplines, there is a broad audience for history. But the history that the general public consumes is often not written by academics and often concerns a small range of subjects: the Civil War, World War II, a handful of presidents. The notion that we academic historians are writing for a broad audience beyond the academy is a myth, though a productive one. That largely imagined general, literate audience does lead to some admirable traits of academic history. It discourages the Read more