Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America by James Axtell
By James Axtell
During this provocative and well timed choice of essays--five released for the 1st time--one of an important ethnohistorians writing at the present time, James Axtell, explores the foremost function of mind's eye either in our belief of strangers and within the writing of historical past. Coinciding with the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus's "discovery" of the US, this assortment covers a variety of themes facing American historical past. 3 essays view the invasion of North the United States from the point of view of the Indians, whose land it used to be. the first actual conferences, he unearths, have been almost always peaceable. different essays describe local encounters with colonial traders--creating "the first patron revolution"--and Jesuit missionaries in Canada and Mexico. regardless of the tragedy of a few of the encounters, Axtell additionally unearths that there has been a lot humor in Indian-European negotiations over peace, intercourse, and battle. within the ultimate part he conducts looking analyses of ways university textbooks deal with the preliminary century of yank heritage, how America's human face replaced from all brown in 1492 to predominantly white and black by means of 1792, and the way we dealt with ethical questions in the course of the Quincentenary. He concludes with an intensive evaluate of the Quincentenary scholarship--books, motion pictures, television, and museum exhibits--and feedback for the way we will be able to assimilate what we've got learned.
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Extra info for Beyond 1492: Encounters in Colonial North America
26 Things are no bet- l6 BEYOND 1492 1492 ter now and much of the blame belongs to the doctoral dissertation, which gets young historians into the bad habit of writing either for a disembodied, pedantic muse or for a handful of academic specialists. 27 Since history at its best is shared discovery, the historian's final and most important task is to translate his vision, his "achieved awareness" and understanding, of the past for the modern reader. This is far from easy, for two reasons. First, the historian's goal must be to tell his story in such a way that the reader will actually experience the past rather than simply hear about it.
But also present, for learned and credulous alike, were strange people who ate human flesh, peered at the world from one large eye in the middle of their chests, and barked rather than spoke from canine snouts. To Europeans, "others" might appear in an infinite variety of shapes, hues, and habits, but they were always and distinctly unlike Europeans and, for the most part, therefore 32 BEYOND 1492 Medieval travel books prominently featured archtypal human monstrosities, who presumably lived in exotic, unexplored countries.
In earlier centuries, the best histories were written and read as literature. Gibbon, Prescott, Parkman, and Bancroft were best-selling authors among educated classes much smaller than ours. " The public hunger for history has thus been fed largely by nonacademic historians and historical novelists who write to be read, not by history professors whose increasingly specialized monographs reach tens of readers. The old sourgrape response of the academics simply will not wash: many of the so-called "popularizers" do do their homework, usually in the primary sources and in the professors' own monographs.