Edited by Wendy Gamber, Michael Grossberg, and Hendrik Hartog
Over the past thirty years, a number of historians, preeminently Morton Keller of Brandeis University, have created a new field of historical study that reinvigorates political history by incorporating the study of legal, economic, religious, and cultural institutions into a broadly conceptualized history of American public life. The essays in American Public Life and the Historical Imagination, all written by former students of Keller, illuminate this new field while also offering a rich appreciation of the complex and diverse American experience.
By applying a variety of critical historical strategies and methodologies to the study of nineteenth- and twentieth-century American public life, contributors to this volume unearth fascinating chronicles in American history. The alliance of the Anti-Saloon League and the Klu Klux Klan in the early twentieth century, hurricane control as a paradigm of twentieth-century institutional life, Native Americans as historians of the United States, and the difficulties that a legal theorist of the 1930s found in describing the functions of marriage, are just some of the topics covered. These essays explore an enlarged vision of American public life, one that incorporates all the institutions identified with American society, politics, and economy.
“This book is a gem. In tribute to their inspiring teacher, Morton Keller, three fine American historians have brought together an exciting group of essays that share a commitment to a dynamic new organizing concept—‘public life.’ As historians’ work increasingly crosses old field boundaries, integrating political and cultural history, legal and intellectual, to name only a few emerging hybrids, it is time to open up new conceptual borderlands. Gamber, Grossberg, and Hartog show us the way.” —Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumer’s’Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America
“This splendid collection features fresh, first-rate scholarship by historians who are advancing new arguments, based on impressive research, concerning an important set of issues in American history.” —James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard University
“This is an important, well-written history of American public life . . . an excellent collection by authors who are known for their superb work.” —Paul Finkelman, University of Tulsa College of Law
Contributors: Frederick E. Hoxie, William J. Novak, James J. Connolly, Hendrik Hartog, J. Matthew Gallman, Wendy Gamber, Allon Gal, Beth LaDow, Charles W. Cheape, Michael Grossberg, Thomas R. Pegram, Raymond Arsenault, and Ellen Fitzpatrick.