The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIt’s been another marvelous week for early American history. First, we saw the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. As John Fea notes, the exact wording of the speech has been causing trouble; Barack Obama has been accused of refusing to read a crucial passage. The AP’s Allen G. Breed investigated the various drafts of the speech and, with help from Martin P. Johnson, discussed their significance to American journalism. On SNL, though, Mr. Jebediah Atkinson had harsh words to say about the address.

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An Alt Canon of Early American Primary Texts?

davidwalkersappeal-uncdocsouthWe hear a lot about the “canon wars” of the 1980s and 1990s, when conservative (and neoconservative, and Straussian anti-anti-liberal, and pre-New-Left liberal) critics raised the hue and cry against relativizing multiculturalism, which was replacing War and Peace and The Scarlet Letter on college reading lists with just any random thing that wasn’t written by a wealthy straight white man. Or, if you prefer, when left-wing critics advanced the radical notion that women, homosexuals, minorities, and the poor are conscious human beings too. Or when cynical politicians and self-important idealists conspired together to undermine public confidence in higher education and the humanities. Or whatever.

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