Conflict and Consensus—Redux

in Richard Hofstadter

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780226076409
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226076379 | DOI:
Conflict and Consensus—Redux

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This chapter looks at Hofstadter's book The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington (1968). It can be said to be the most conventionally argued book of Hofstadter since The American Political Tradition. Originally conceived as a brief appraisal of Progressive literature, the study evolved into a complex interior dialogue between the author and his past. It allowed Hofstadter to clarify his thoughts on a half-century of American historiography at the precise moment that his own scholarly generation wrestled with doubt and decline. The Progressive Historians is a beautifully written study that stands as a singular achievement in the fields of historiography and intellectual biography. Further, it is a contemporary document, deeply engaged with the pedagogical transition from a professor-centered model to one increasingly receptive to the demands of students. It is, even more broadly speaking, the graduate school generation of the 1930s speaking to the graduate school generation of the 1960s. The need to reconsider the dominant historical themes of his youth buoyed Hofstadter throughout the writing of The Progressive Historians. He described his work as a discharging of thirty years of allegiances and second thoughts; a final engagement with ideas that he first began to explore as an undergraduate at the University of Buffalo.

Keywords: The Progressive Historians; literature; dialogue; historiography; pedagogical transition; University of Buffalo

Chapter.  7406 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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