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02-03-2010, 02:37 PM
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Chazz Reinhold
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Hockey History in Canadian-American Relations

I posted this in the history of hockey section, but I was hoping to get some input from my fellow Kings fans here:

I am currently a MA student in US History, and this semester I am taking a class on Canadian-American relations. Our end-of-the-semester project requires us to do some research on a historical topic of our choosing, and I feel this is the perfect opportunity to do something on hockey. However, I can't think of a specific topic or incident that involves both countries. That's where I'm hoping some people here can help. What's a good topic that involves hockey and Canadian-American relations? It doesn't have to involve diplomats and politicians; a cultural history is more than acceptable.

The premise the professor provides is pretty simple:

"Write a 15-20 page essay that analyzes the historical interpretations of a major event or issue in Canadian-American relations."

Anyone have any good ideas? Preferably one that will have a good amount of primary and secondary sources from both sides of the border.

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02-03-2010, 02:45 PM
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2002 Olympics?

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02-03-2010, 02:53 PM
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1924 formation of the Boston Bruins as the first non-Canadian team in the NHL.

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02-03-2010, 07:08 PM
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Nice! Those are both really good ideas. I'm meeting with my professor tomorrow to discuss topics so I'll bring those up and see what he thinks.

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02-03-2010, 10:24 PM
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the 1996 World Cup of Hockey might also make an interesting study.

What school are you attending?

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02-03-2010, 10:26 PM
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University of Maine.

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02-03-2010, 11:29 PM
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the formation of the bruins in 1924 would be a great research paper topic, but that's a bit different from what your professor sounds like he's asking for. it sounds like he wants a more historiographical essay on a topic, which means you need an existing literature to survey.

(being a historian myself) i did a jstor search for "boston bruins" and got NOTHING, though "national hockey league" restricted to history journals turned up a couple of book reviews. the ones that looked interesting were bruce kidd, the struggle for canadian sport; henry morton, the great hockey thaw, or the russians are here!; and terry copp, canada 1922-1939: decades of discord. the last one is probably a snooze fest, but you might find some interesting things in the first two. morton's book suggests a possible overarching frame that should be right in line with a class on us-canadian relations, which is joint efforts in the cold war. now, the us-canada alliance in the cold war must have a vast literature, but it would be interesting to look at the arrival of russian players in north america.

do you have access to ebsco? i also did a search of historical abstracts, and it turned up an article on the 1972 summit series of ice hockey between canada and the soviet union. if you don't have access to that database, pm me and i'll mail you a pdf.

finally, i searched the melvyl database (university of california library system) and it turned up a variety of things. take a look at worldcat, though you'll be limited by what u of maine with inter-library-loan request for you.

good luck, i wish i was working on a project like that instead of reading for qualifying exams! well, maybe not, since i'll be done in a few months, but still.

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02-04-2010, 07:56 AM
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Wow awesome response. Thank you. I'm not sure if I have access to those other databases through the UMaine system because I'm able to find what I usually need for class on jstor. We actually have a top-notch library here, and they claim if they don't have it they will get it on inter-library loan. I'll bring up a couple of these ideas today with my professor and see what he says.

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02-04-2010, 08:16 AM
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I just took a quick look at the library's website and we do have access to ebsco. I'll have to search around there and see what I find.

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02-04-2010, 09:46 AM
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Just got back from meeting with my professor, and he steered me in the direction of focusing on the historiography of hockey as part of the Canadian national identity. I went and checked out 6 books for it already, and there are plenty more that I could get at the library. This should be a pretty fun project.

agentfouser, where are you studying and what are you working on?

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02-04-2010, 09:51 AM
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I just took a quick look at the library's website and we do have access to ebsco. I'll have to search around there and see what I find.
ebsco should give you access to the database "historical abstracts," which will tell you if things exist, though you won't always be able to locate them. so, once you've found something on historical abstracts, try worldcat to locate it worldcat is literally "world catalog," so it will find books where like one copy exists in the british museum in london, so obviously no library is going to interlibrary loan something like that. but, worldcat usually has a function tied in with your local library's catalog to either tell you if your university's library has it, or to initiate a request.

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02-04-2010, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Chazz Reinhold View Post
Just got back from meeting with my professor, and he steered me in the direction of focusing on the historiography of hockey as part of the Canadian national identity. I went and checked out 6 books for it already, and there are plenty more that I could get at the library. This should be a pretty fun project.

agentfouser, where are you studying and what are you working on?
sweet, there's actually a decent and developing literature on sport and national identity. i've seen articles here and there on things like gaelic football in ireland and cricket in india. you might also find that kind of thing tied to the study of "manliness" in gender studies.

i'm a phd student at uc irvine. i study british and imperial, especially south asian, history. i take my qualifying exams this may, then i begin my dissertation. it's still in preliminary stages, i haven't submitted a prospectus or anything yet, but i want to study to the environmental history of britain through food. basically, food is a central way in which humans interact with their environments, literally taking things created by "nature" into our bodies. i want to understand how knowledge is constructed about food, and how that relates to agriculture in britain and (since britain was probably the first nation to have a global food chain) around the world.

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02-04-2010, 10:19 AM
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Wow that sounds pretty interesting. I took a class on the history of the British Empire last semester, but that is just a whole different level (which a dissertation should be). That definitely sounds like a pretty unique topic; have you had any articles or anything published yet?

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02-04-2010, 11:01 AM
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I would change topics and go with the border dispute during the Monroe years.
54-40 or fight!

It's funny how Canadians say that are 1-0 in wars with the US. They didn't win the war of 1812 and ceded land to the US in 1844.


Another topic could be smuggling of Canadian booze in to the US during prohibition.

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02-04-2010, 12:12 PM
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Wow that sounds pretty interesting. I took a class on the history of the British Empire last semester, but that is just a whole different level (which a dissertation should be). That definitely sounds like a pretty unique topic; have you had any articles or anything published yet?
yeah, and i think you'll find--if you haven't already--that there's a big jump between consuming knowledge, as one does at the undergraduate level, and producing knowledge, as you're expected to do at the graduate level. but, i think i'm pretty lucky because my adviser is really cool, and he likes my topic and my work so far. i don't have anything published yet, but i'm working on it. in the next few months i'll be submitting an piece i wrote last year, about a guy named sir albert howard. he was a soil scientist who worked in india from 1904 to 1931, and he developed at lot of the practices that we now call "organic" agriculture. he retired to england in 1931 and wrote prolifically, especially about the industrialization of british farming during ww2 (short summary--he didn't like the changes).

thinking about your topic (since i'm kind of putting off reading a book i'm not thrilled about), have you read benedict anderson's imagined communities? it's a pretty important book, and though it's not about canada or the united states in particular, he kind of opened up the conversation about national identity as something imagined. the books you'll be reading about canadian national identity will probably be drawing on anderson, whether explicitly or implicitly. it's not a tough book, and it's worth your time.

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I would change topics and go with the border dispute during the Monroe years.
54-40 or fight!

It's funny how Canadians say that are 1-0 in wars with the US. They didn't win the war of 1812 and ceded land to the US in 1844.

Another topic could be smuggling of Canadian booze in to the US during prohibition.
yeah, those would be great as well, and i bet there's a TON of older stuff about the first one in particular.

what books did you get about hockey and national identity?

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02-04-2010, 12:48 PM
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If you ever do get something published you'll have to post a link on here so I can read it. I'm in my second year of my MA program and I think I'm just now starting to learn what it means to be a successful graduate student. My grades have been good my first 3 semesters, but I think I'm finally starting to figure "it" out.

The books I have are Podnieks' A Canadian Saturday Night: Hockey and the Culture of a Country, Kidd's The Struggle for Canadian Sport, Howell's Blood, Sweat, and Cheers, Howell's Putting it on Ice Vol. I: Hockey and Cultural Identities, Dowbiggin's The Meaning of Puck: How Hockey Explains Modern Canada, and Holman's Canada's Game: Hockey and Idetity. A funny anecdote about Holman: when I read the back and saw that he's a professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts I realized that I know who he is; he's the coach for the club hockey team there and we played them last season. I'll go back and look for that Anderson book tomorrow.

As far as the War of 1812 goes, we were just discussing that in my class this week. It's pretty interesting how three parties involved in a war can come away with three different interpretations. The Canadians think the war was good for them because they stopped those big, bad Americans from taking their land (even though that wasn't the US goal at all). America thinks the war went well since they stood up to the world's greatest naval power and fought them to what pretty much amounted to a standstill. Britain barely even recognizes the war (the joke was that it gets a footnote in the British history books that says America declared war on Britain during the Napoleonic Wars).

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02-04-2010, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Chazz Reinhold View Post
As far as the War of 1812 goes, we were just discussing that in my class this week. It's pretty interesting how three parties involved in a war can come away with three different interpretations. The Canadians think the war was good for them because they stopped those big, bad Americans from taking their land (even though that wasn't the US goal at all).
That is pretty misunderstood. There was a hawk or two in the US that did want to completely occupy Canada and that is massively overplayed in the Canadian History classes. What is more accurate is the US brass thought the mere act of invading Canada would force the Canadians to revolt against the British and kick them out, which backfired badly on them.

The other funny part of this is the Canadians think the war was won because the British burnt down Washington DC. What they don't realize that the British doing that was retaliation for the Americans burning down York(which is modern day Toronto)

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02-04-2010, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Chazz Reinhold View Post
If you ever do get something published you'll have to post a link on here so I can read it. I'm in my second year of my MA program and I think I'm just now starting to learn what it means to be a successful graduate student. My grades have been good my first 3 semesters, but I think I'm finally starting to figure "it" out.

The books I have are Podnieks' A Canadian Saturday Night: Hockey and the Culture of a Country, Kidd's The Struggle for Canadian Sport, Howell's Blood, Sweat, and Cheers, Howell's Putting it on Ice Vol. I: Hockey and Cultural Identities, Dowbiggin's The Meaning of Puck: How Hockey Explains Modern Canada, and Holman's Canada's Game: Hockey and Idetity. A funny anecdote about Holman: when I read the back and saw that he's a professor at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts I realized that I know who he is; he's the coach for the club hockey team there and we played them last season. I'll go back and look for that Anderson book tomorrow.

As far as the War of 1812 goes, we were just discussing that in my class this week. It's pretty interesting how three parties involved in a war can come away with three different interpretations. The Canadians think the war was good for them because they stopped those big, bad Americans from taking their land (even though that wasn't the US goal at all). America thinks the war went well since they stood up to the world's greatest naval power and fought them to what pretty much amounted to a standstill. Britain barely even recognizes the war (the joke was that it gets a footnote in the British history books that says America declared war on Britain during the Napoleonic Wars).
hey, i have an MA (cal state northridge) and am three years into a phd here at uci, and i keep finding that i have to constantly keep working to get "it." it's a long process, and judging by my professors, it doesn't really stop (maybe once you get tenure). but, that's the fun part about it, right? there's always more to learn, more to think about. and it sounds like you're doing well--the way you recognize the different strands of historiography for 1812, THAT's graduate student work.

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That is pretty misunderstood. There was a hawk or two in the US that did want to completely occupy Canada and that is massively overplayed in the Canadian History classes. What is more accurate is the US brass thought the mere act of invading Canada would force the Canadians to revolt against the British and kick them out, which backfired badly on them.

The other funny part of this is the Canadians think the war was won because the British burnt down Washington DC. What they don't realize that the British doing that was retaliation for the Americans burning down York(which is modern day Toronto)
i'm not sure you can say that it's exactly misunderstood. like chazz points out, it has different interpretations in each place, but it's not like there's one RIGHT one. history is a process of making meaning from the past, and it's pretty clear that 1812 has different meaning to each group. why should we privilege the meaning that one group invests in it over another? i think if we really want to understand the war of 1812 at the deepest level we can, we need to recognize that 1812 is all of those things.

are you in the history business as well? student or teacher, maybe?


Last edited by agentfouser: 02-04-2010 at 02:13 PM. Reason: edit: clarifying meaning of 1812
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02-08-2010, 12:21 PM
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i'm not sure you can say that it's exactly misunderstood. like chazz points out, it has different interpretations in each place, but it's not like there's one RIGHT one. history is a process of making meaning from the past, and it's pretty clear that 1812 has different meaning to each group. why should we privilege the meaning that one group invests in it over another? i think if we really want to understand the war of 1812 at the deepest level we can, we need to recognize that 1812 is all of those things.

are you in the history business as well? student or teacher, maybe?
No. Not in the business.

I read a ton of history.

There is a "right history" in just about every case. You just gotta dig and dig sometimes to really uncover it.

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02-08-2010, 01:17 PM
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No. Not in the business.

I read a ton of history.

There is a "right history" in just about every case. You just gotta dig and dig sometimes to really uncover it.
i totally disagree. historical knowledge is not objective, not something waiting to be "discovered." it is a construction, something that people create, an interpretation of the documentary record. the documents never "speak for themselves," as von ranke claimed. rather, there are deep and complex power relations built into the documentary record--they reflect the viewpoints of their creators, who were not objective observers of past events. and more than that, documents themselves are a technology of power, a means through which the infinite complexity of human events is radically simplified so as to be made legible to a government, a corporation, or an individual. so, on an empirical level, the "right" history that you speak of is a subjective interpretation of a documentary record that is itself a fragmentary and incomplete set of subjective interpretations of human history. the "right" history, to the extent that it exists, is not recoverable by historians, or is recoverable only to a very limited extent. we can often tell WHAT happened, but determining WHY in any kind of objective way is basically impossible.

now, this doesn't mean that historians should ignore the documentary record, but if we're going to recognize the power relations built into it, we have to recognize the power relations built into the history that we ourselves write and consume. the "right" history has a set of power relations built into it just like the documentary record and other historical narratives, though calling it "right" or "objective" is a way of denying those power relations and thus making them all the more difficult to contest.

and when it comes to the operation of power, two points are necessary. first is that power does not operate transparently. when a government passes a law, for example, or a general issues an order, power does not simply flow from a "center" to passive recipients who obey without question. the authority of a state or a general, or whatever, is mutually constituted by both the issuer of an order and its executor. hence the need for, and importance of "discipline." but the operation of power through discipline (or social norms, or scientific knowledge) is not centered in a president or a general. it's diffused throughout the society, and as such it registers much more opaquely in the documents, often appearing (a) through the silences as much as the statements, and (b) through the set of assumptions built into our language (usually referred to as "discourse.")

second, is the power of narrative itself. when we say that a historical event happened in a certain way, that there's a "right" interpretation of that event, how much does that actually matter? to take the 1812 example, let's just assume for a minute that new documents come to light which suggest that the american leadership was possessed by brain slugs from mars. so maybe this means that a new interpretation of those events is necessary, but the actual power of those events to shape future events is NOT from the "real" explanation of them, but from the narratives that people tell about them. this is why it's important to recognize the multiple perspectives and the power they carry. canadians act through the knowledge they have available about that war, regardless of the "right" interpretation! as do americans, and as do britons. the new fact that american leadership was possessed by brain slugs does not change how people in the past acted, based on their knowledge of the war of 1812--the narratives about an event are what give it power, not it's ontological reality. so history is not just the study of the true explanations of events, but also of their memory and how their memory has effected later events.

what's most interesting to me about history--in this sense as basically a set of stories we tell ourselves about the past--is the way that they are all "presentist." think about science fiction for a moment. ever notice the way that sci fi is basically a mirror of the time when it was written? stories are only possible in the broader cultural language of their creation, so a sci fi tale written at a time when racial conflicts are paramount in people's minds, that story will reflect that. well, history works in basically the same way. it's a mirror of the present, though it's a an image projected onto the past, so it appears in the shape of different interpretations of the documents (in this way, sci fi is a much clearer mirror, because there is no empirical record to get in the way). a really good example of this is david cannadine's article on the industrial revolution in the journal past and present from the early 1980s. he goes through the history of the history of the industrial revolution (yes, the history of the history) to show how at each point, the interpretations of industrialization matched the current economic and social climate. and at each of those time, the writers claimed that their history was the "right" one. so, the "right" history is shown to be dangerously unstable, and changes over time. history itself has a history, and if we think that history is objectively and therefore timelessly right, we'll find out soon enough how wrong we are.

sorry for such a long post, but i used this as an opportunity to write out a response to what i know will be a question for my qualifying exams. and look, this doesn't mean that histories that claim to be "right" are actually "wrong," more incomplete. like i said, history is a set of stories about the past and the meaning we invest in them. i just think it's more interesting to try to step outside that process for a moment now and then, and to think about how that meaning is created. one of those ways it's created is by appealing to a sense of objective truth, to a "right" history.

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02-08-2010, 01:28 PM
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i totally disagree. historical knowledge is not objective, not something waiting to be "discovered." it is a construction, something that people create, an interpretation of the documentary record. the documents never "speak for themselves," as von ranke claimed. rather, there are deep and complex power relations built into the documentary record--they reflect the viewpoints of their creators, who were not objective observers of past events. and more than that, documents themselves are a technology of power, a means through which the infinite complexity of human events is radically simplified so as to be made legible to a government, a corporation, or an individual. so, on an empirical level, the "right" history that you speak of is a subjective interpretation of a documentary record that is itself a fragmentary and incomplete set of subjective interpretations of human history. the "right" history, to the extent that it exists, is not recoverable by historians, or is recoverable only to a very limited extent. we can often tell WHAT happened, but determining WHY in any kind of objective way is basically impossible.

now, this doesn't mean that historians should ignore the documentary record, but if we're going to recognize the power relations built into it, we have to recognize the power relations built into the history that we ourselves write and consume. the "right" history has a set of power relations built into it just like the documentary record and other historical narratives, though calling it "right" or "objective" is a way of denying those power relations and thus making them all the more difficult to contest.

and when it comes to the operation of power, two points are necessary. first is that power does not operate transparently. when a government passes a law, for example, or a general issues an order, power does not simply flow from a "center" to passive recipients who obey without question. the authority of a state or a general, or whatever, is mutually constituted by both the issuer of an order and its executor. hence the need for, and importance of "discipline." but the operation of power through discipline (or social norms, or scientific knowledge) is not centered in a president or a general. it's diffused throughout the society, and as such it registers much more opaquely in the documents, often appearing (a) through the silences as much as the statements, and (b) through the set of assumptions built into our language (usually referred to as "discourse.")

second, is the power of narrative itself. when we say that a historical event happened in a certain way, that there's a "right" interpretation of that event, how much does that actually matter? to take the 1812 example, let's just assume for a minute that new documents come to light which suggest that the american leadership was possessed by brain slugs from mars. so maybe this means that a new interpretation of those events is necessary, but the actual power of those events to shape future events is NOT from the "real" explanation of them, but from the narratives that people tell about them. this is why it's important to recognize the multiple perspectives and the power they carry. canadians act through the knowledge they have available about that war, regardless of the "right" interpretation! as do americans, and as do britons. the new fact that american leadership was possessed by brain slugs does not change how people in the past acted, based on their knowledge of the war of 1812--the narratives about an event are what give it power, not it's ontological reality. so history is not just the study of the true explanations of events, but also of their memory and how their memory has effected later events.

what's most interesting to me about history--in this sense as basically a set of stories we tell ourselves about the past--is the way that they are all "presentist." think about science fiction for a moment. ever notice the way that sci fi is basically a mirror of the time when it was written? stories are only possible in the broader cultural language of their creation, so a sci fi tale written at a time when racial conflicts are paramount in people's minds, that story will reflect that. well, history works in basically the same way. it's a mirror of the present, though it's a an image projected onto the past, so it appears in the shape of different interpretations of the documents (in this way, sci fi is a much clearer mirror, because there is no empirical record to get in the way). a really good example of this is david cannadine's article on the industrial revolution in the journal past and present from the early 1980s. he goes through the history of the history of the industrial revolution (yes, the history of the history) to show how at each point, the interpretations of industrialization matched the current economic and social climate. and at each of those time, the writers claimed that their history was the "right" one. so, the "right" history is shown to be dangerously unstable, and changes over time. history itself has a history, and if we think that history is objectively and therefore timelessly right, we'll find out soon enough how wrong we are.

sorry for such a long post, but i used this as an opportunity to write out a response to what i know will be a question for my qualifying exams. and look, this doesn't mean that histories that claim to be "right" are actually "wrong," more incomplete. like i said, history is a set of stories about the past and the meaning we invest in them. i just think it's more interesting to try to step outside that process for a moment now and then, and to think about how that meaning is created. one of those ways it's created is by appealing to a sense of objective truth, to a "right" history.
^
l
l
This.

I was going to say that there a number of historians that would disagree with the concept of a "right" history, but I'd say the above is a much better answer.

As far history being a product of the time in which it was written, the revisionist school of historical thought is a perfect example. They (William Appleman Williams, et al) were writing during the Vietnam era, so their critical nature is most likely a product of the time during which they wrote.

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