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31 Cards in this Set

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Bottom-Up Approach
attempts to explain the experiences or perspectives of ordinary people, as opposed to elites or leaders
Consensus History
Most popular in the 1950's, this school of U.S. history challenged Progressive and Marxist beliefs and instead emphasized that the U.S. has had in its history very little class tensions or any other kind of profound division.
Cultural Approach
Analyzes the feelings, images, and sense of identity held by people in the past. While traditional social history is mainly concerned with people's experiences, the cultural approach emphasizes that humans experience lif subjectively. Thus cultural historians focus on the meanings that people in the past assigned to those experiences.
Cultural History, or Traditional Cultural History
Refers to studies of cultural practices such as music, theater, film. Traditional cultural history has some roots in the older notion of culture as "the best that has been said and thought." Historians using the cultural approach typically draw on cultural anthropologists' sense that evertything humans do and think, from opera to middle-school dances to income-tax forms, represents culture.
Economic Determinist
A historian who believes that economics is the main or sole driving force in human history.
A set of values held by historians (typically on the left) whos see history as a way to combat or at least better understand patriarchy (i.e. the political, social, economic, and/or cultural forces that have granted power to men and limited women's equality).
A watered-down variation of Marxist, sometimes used to refer to a historian or theorist with some Marxist intellectual traits, but without the plitical ideology of a full-fledged Marxist.
Believes that human history is dominated by different forms of class struggle and that the best way to understand historical change is to start by studying who controls the economy and how the economy operates. Marxism can be an impartial intellectual philosophy, although it can also refer to a political ideology that hopes to see the process of class struggle lead eventually to a communist revolution.
New Left
A set of values held by U.S. historians on the left who criticize the consensus school. Where consensus historians emphasized American unity, New Left scholars generally call attention to how America has been divided by race, class, and gender. The New Left also criticized the Old Left for focusing too much on class inequality (and not on race and gender). This school emerged in the 1960's and 70's.
Old Left
A set of values held by U.S. historians on the left during the 1930's who emphasized social class issues. Unlike New Left historians, the Old Left was less concerned with issues of race and gender. Very similar to Progressive History. Some leftist historians since the 1960's still ignore rac and class issues, so in a sense, the Old Left has never disappeared.
Political History
Refers to studies of government policy, political parties, elections, and other aspects of gov. activity. Some historians might use a cultural approach or a social approach to study political history. Other historians just describe and analyze the political process w/out using any special method.
Postmodernism or Poststructuralism
Postmodernism rose in prominence in the 1970's and 80's and is still somewhat controversial. Posses two traits 1) they reject the broad certainties of Structuralism and 2) they use a Cultural Approach. It is otherwise difficult to define what exactly makes a postmodernist.
Postmodern Themes
Some stress that scholarly objectivity is a very elusive ideal. They might call into question scholars' ability to know the past with any certainty. Some go so far as to abandon any attempt to show cause and effect.
Postmodern Themes
Some postmodernists emphasize the limits to binary distinctions such as "high culture- vs - popular culture" or " gay vs straight." They argue instead that such tidy binaries obscure more complex dynamics and gray areas.
Postmodern Themes
Some specialize in showing how seemingly simple concepts that people commonly take for granted are in fact accidents of history and thus vulnerable to collapse or contradicion. A postmodernist might emphasize that seemingly straightforward concepts of identity ("I am an American" or "I am a man") are full of complications and contradictions.
Postmodernist Themes
Many postmodernists use the Cultural Approach to criticize Structuralism. While structuralists see history as dominated by powerful structures, postmodernists emphasize that structures are full of exceptions and ironies and therefore are not as powerful as structuralists would think.
Progressive History
Type of scholarship prominent in the 1910's and 20's that often emphasized class tensions and material interests as key forces shaping U.S. history. More Marxian than Marxist, the Progressives hoped to promote reform in pre-WWII America.
Quantitative History
Scholarship that relies extensively or even exclusively on statistics to draw its conclusions. Most often used as part of a Social History approach.
Social History
History that attempts to describe the experiences of ordinary people, or that attempts to describe relatively objective patterns in social groups. Often but not always history from the Bottom-Up. Social history is sometimes difficult to distinguish from Cultural History, esp. because many cultural historians use elements of social history to set up their cultural arguments. Social History is primarily concerned with the reality of what life was like for ordinary people. The cultural approach, in contrast, is generally less interested in material conditions and more interested in how people in the past represented reality or constructed identity and emotions.
Top-Down Approach
Scholarship that emphasizes elites and leaders, as opposed to average people. Think, for instance, of a book of WWII that focused on Franklin Roosevelt rather than on the lives of ordinary Americans.
The ability to exert some control over one's own life or surroundings. Some historians use an even broader definition of "ageny" that includes attempts to take matters into one's own hands. Agency is the opposite of "passivity." Historians using a Bottom Up Approach frequently search for agency among disadvantaged people (e.g. slaves, factory workers, etc.)
A way or method of studying a topic. For instance, a scholar who uses pop music to explain the result of a presidential election would be using a cultural approach to study the topic of political history. Conversely, a scholar who studies the influence of Washington on Hollywood movies would be employing a political approach to study a topic in cultural history. Words like "method" and "school" are synonyms with "approach."
A term sometimes used in the Cultural Approach to refer to a set of beliefs or images that has crystallized into a fairly coherent set of powerful ideas. This term can be synonymous with the concept of ideology.
To essentialize is to make a specific kind of overgeneralization. It refers to assuming the existence of some kind of inner "essence" shared by a group that is in reality diverse.
Refers to how various societies define what it means to be a man or a woman. Different from "sex," which refers mainly to biological differences, in other words, gender is inherently cultural.
Presentist History
A term used to describe historians whose present-day concerns influence the way they study and write about the past. Although one can argue that all historians have at least some present-day concerns that influence their scholarship, historians often use the term as a pejorative to criticize bias in another historian.
Primary Source
A source from the time period under study. Diaries, letters, newspapers and magazine articles, interviews, and testimonies from participants in events, government reports, and statistical info.
Revisionist History
1) A neutral term to refer to a scholar who is revising a previous interpretation
2) A term used by conservatives to describe, and usually criticize, scholarship on the Left that casts the U.S. in a negative light
3) A term that has specific and commonly understood meanings in some historiographic subfields.
Secondary Source
A source created after the time period. Secondary sources are usually articles and books by scholars or other authors written years after the events described.
Any system of thought that believes that history has a beginning, middle, and end, and that human events are part of a grand purpose or plan leading to a final end that will take place sometime in the future. Linear
Thick Description
A thick description attempts to uncover the ambiguities, coded meanings, or subtle gendered or racialized messages that can lurk behind a word choice, a ritual act, or a material artifact. Thick description requires that the scholar explicitly analyze the deeper cultural codes and meanings behind and event or text.