Home-Grown Historians: Colorado and the Calling of Noted Historians
Gary Gallagher, University of Virginia and author, The Union War; The Confederate War; Causes Won, Lost, and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War
James T. Kloppenberg, Harvard University and author, Uncertain Victory: Democracy and Progressivism in European and American Thought, 1870-1920; The Virtues of Liberalism; Reading Obama: Dreams, Hopes, and the American Political Tradition
Maria Montoya, New York University and author, Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grand and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840–1920
Robert Westbrook, University of Rochester and author, Democratic Hope: Pragmatism and the Politics of Truth; Why We Fought: Forging American Obligations in World War II; John Dewey and American Democracy
This session brings together historians who spent their formative years in the State of Colorado, and who have followed their careers to other locales. Each has retained ties with and feelings toward their place of origin. In at least one or two cases, they live with at least a mild sensation of exile from the landscapes, communities, and stories that first brought to life their sense of vocation as explorers of the past.
These ”prodigal children,” returning to the state for the AHA, will reflect on the puzzling, thought-provoking, disturbing, and inspiring aspects of their lives in Colorado that drew them into the design and creation of narratives and interpretations that could deliver a better understanding of the world around them. While a couple of participants became Western American historians, others took up other fields of history, tracking themes and questions that first preoccupied them here in Colorado: dynamism and hybridity in ethnic identities; contests over property; the power of nostalgia; the lasting legacy of violence; the workings of federalism; the shifting alignment of political parties; and the power of ideas and myths in the shaping of behavior and conduct. As people returning to a territory dramatically transformed by rapid population growth over the last decades, the participants will also have the occasion to explore the workings of memory and nostalgia, in contrasting the Colorado of their childhood with the state with which they will be having a reunion in January of 2017.