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Echoes in the Ivory Tower: The Second World Youth Congress and the Conflicts of Academia and Society

As the 2018-2019 academic year kicks off, I can’t help but think back to my May research trip to Vassar College. All last year, I had a tenuous relationship at best with my thesis work on the World Youth Congress Movement (1936-1939), confident of the project’s potential but confounded by how to assert the significance […]... Read More
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Making History, Marking History: The Great Anniversaries of 2018

To mark the first anniversary of Concerning History, we’re taking a look at some of the major historical moments being commemorated this year and providing some recommendations for further reading. There are plenty of other events out there worth marking, however, so if you have one you think we should have included, we invite you to scroll down to the comments and share it with us.... Read More
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Not God’s Country: Netflix’s Godless and the New American Western

Has there ever been a subject that captured America’s imagination like the Wild West? What American triumph more glorious than the Winning of the West? What more iconic (and retroactively troubling) childhood memory than playing cowboys and indians? What films more seminal to the American film tradition than those staring John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Roy […]... Read More
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Solid, yet Predictable: Dee Rees’s Mudbound

A couple months ago, a trailer for a Great Depression/Second World War period drama debuting on Netflix caught our eye, and Mudbound was duly put on our list to watch. Despite a (fortunately) aborted idea to watch it on New Years Eve with Bryan’s parents, we did eventually get around to watching this frank portrayal of Southern racism and poverty in the wake of the Second World War. Though we enjoyed its coverage of less-trod historical themes, we were kept from really loving Mudbound by its thoroughly predictable story.... Read More
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Looking Back: A 2017 Historical Retrospective

With 2017 behind us, the staff of Concerning History took some time to speculate what the events of this year might mean to people in the future. As the job of the historian is to consider the past, this task is naturally beyond our expertise and abilities. Nonetheless, we think that a preliminary consideration would be worthwhile for what it says about the experience of living through this year. Throughout our conversation, we’ll be guided by the following question: What will future historians talk about when they talk about 2017?... Read More
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Two Island Narratives, Part II: Sapelo

As a part of a troupe of teachers studying Reconstruction, perhaps the most misremembered time in America’s past, I headed to Sapelo Island off the Georgia coast. There a secluded community still lives today, descendants of the former enslaved peoples of the lowcountry south where sea-island cotton was grown for export to textile mills in places like New York, Manchester, and Liverpool. Our group had the chance to get to know the place ourselves. We enjoyed eating the Low Country Boil, a meal consisting of shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn in a broth, which locals had enjoyed for centuries. We swam in the warm waters and looked up at the starry night sky while thunder rolled in the distance. I quickly appreciated the natural beauty of the place, and why those who had toiled and bled in the fields would want their children and their children’s children to construct a new life there. Like the “mixed race people” of Malaga in the north, the Gullah-Geechee culture that lives on Sapelo today were likely maligned over the past century and a half as somehow inferior, incapable of caring for the land properly.... Read More
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Two Island Narratives, Part I: Malaga

Some of my earliest memories are of the sea breaking on the rocky cliffs of Small Point, Maine. Every summer, usually in August before the start of school, my parents would drive us up I-95 through Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, stopping only for lunch in one of a handful of locations on the way to Bath, and then out on the point past Phippsburg. The most anticipated part of the whole trip was of course  the drive up the long dirt road to the Small Point Club house which sat on a bluff overlooking a roughly three mile long beach complete with a tidal river and white cliffs off in the distance.... Read More
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Episodic History: Kevin’s Picks

Continuing with our series on eras and events that we think would make for great television, I’ve pulled together my own list of ideas. Make sure to check out Bryan’s and Ryan’s as well. The English Civil War—Enough with the Tudors! The rest of English history needs some love. Imagine a sprawling Game of Thrones-type […]... Read More
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Terror in Rosewood: A Film with Enduring Relevance

As the nation wrestles with last weekend’s implications for who we are as a country, I thought it might be appropriate to look back at a lesser-known movie from two decades ago. John Singleton’s Rosewood is set during the 1920s in a small Florida town of the same name. If its plot were entirely invented, […]... Read More
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In Defense of Radical Responses to Civil War Monuments

I began writing on this topic several weeks ago, well before the despicable rally that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend. The controversy over Confederate monuments has been unquestionably transformed by the alliance of neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and the so-called Alt-Right that came out “in defense” of Charlottesville’s Robert E. Lee monument. […]... Read More