Thursday, November 20, 2008

Call for Papers: Problems and Methods in Writing Recent American History

Claire Potter, Wesleyan, and Renee Romano, Oberlin, are planning an exciting new collection of essays, to launch a new book series on recent American history. And you're invited to join them! Since I am writing an essay for a collection entitled "W. as History," I could use this collection right now. Here's the Call for Papers:
Problems and Methods in Writing Recent American History.”
We invite submissions of articles for an anthology on the methodological, political, and ethical challenges related to studying the history of recent events in the United States. The collection, which will be published by the University of Georgia Press and will launch a new book series featuring titles that explore American history since the 1970s, will reflect on the specific methodological challenges of doing late twentieth century history.
Besides facing frequent suspicion that their research is not historical enough, scholars who undertake contemporary history are challenged to work outside an established secondary literature. They often encounter methodological problems that are foreign to scholars of a more distant past, such as negotiating with living subjects or trying to wade through the evolving sources available on the Internet. Topics that articles might explore include: when an event becomes “historical” enough to be a subject of research by historians; the role of oral history in research on recent events; the ethics of writing about living subjects, their friends, and family; the challenges of doing research on participants in social movements who are themselves now prominent scholars; the difficulties of finding archival sources, acquiring permission to use restricted archives, and being responsible to those who possess personal collections; how modern technology changes historical research, from tracking down emails or cell phone records, to using blogs and social networking sites as sources; dealing with the lack of perspective that the passage of time traditionally affords; and addressing how historians can or should borrow from other fields such as sociology, anthropology or political science when studying recent events.
Essays should be no more than 25 manuscript pages and should be written to appeal to a general scholarly audience. Send abstracts to both editors by March 1, 2009; completed manuscripts will be due by September 1, 2009: Renee Romano, Department of History, 10 North Professor Street, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074, and Claire Potter, Center for the Americas, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06457. For more information, please email or

More details are here.