By Joyce Appleby

ISBN-10: 0742542521

ISBN-13: 9780742542525

At a time whilst public commemorations and remembrances frequently turn into battlefields of contested meanings, historians play a good larger position in shaping the way in which the yank public sees and is familiar with its earlier.

Distinguished historian Joyce Appleby has been on the vanguard of a few of the contemporary debates approximately historians and the public's heritage. during this attractive paintings, she brings jointly her most vital reflections at the historian's craft and its significance. A stressed Past conscientiously examines the ways that the dynamic occasions of the second one half the 20th century have considerably altered the way in which historians process the previous and highlights the impressive strength they carry in shaping a countrywide identification. during the substantial ideological shifts of the final part century, historians have spoke back by means of asking new questions on those that preceded us and created robust identities when you were lengthy ignored.

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In 1958, the sociologist Talcott Parsons brought out an American editioil of his 1947 translation of Tlle Protestilrlt Etllic and the Spirit of Capitalisrrr by the grand theorist of Wilhelriiine Gerniary, Max Weber. Building on Weber's imderstanding of how values bind and direct societies, Parsons developed a complex theory explaining the interaction o f society's fuiiction~ arid structures. Pdrsoilidn structuralfunctionalism provided historians with ways to link social structure and political theory in order to explain stability, a topic rarely explored \vhen progress hogged tlie spotlight.

In his view they were disqualified by nature to participate in politics. But surely few practical rnen, entrusted repeatedly by their peers with positions of responsibility, have seriously entertained as nlaily subversive ideas as Thorilas Jefferson. T h e past for Jefferson contained frozen privileges and moribund arrangenlents. T h e reigrli~lgideas of old reginle societies were embodied in forms that il-npressed thenlselves in the rituals, cere11lonie5,and decorun1 of everyday life. People lived, as it were, in a n~asquecut off fronl their real selves as they perforr~iedthe parts i ~ r ~ p o s eby d the hierarchical institutions of church and state.

T h e prevailing concept of ideology can illu~ninate111y point. In ideology scholars have found a concept that enables them to talk about thinking as a social activity. Ideologies are not formal intellectual systenis that discipline the niirid but loose asociation5 of ideas that engage the etilotions. Ideologies generate enthusiasnis, coninlitr~lents,and pre-judices. They provide us with the nleans for expressing o u r religion, our science, our laws, and our fantasies. More than Illere coninlunication systems, ideologies prolnote agi-ee~iientand inspire action.

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