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Volume 1, Issue 1: Contents


Introducing History of the Present

  History of the Present is a journal devoted to history as a critical endeavor. Its aim is twofold: to create a space in which scholars can reflect on the role history plays in establishing categories of contemporary debate by making them appear inevitable, natural, or culturally necessary; and to publish work that calls into question certainties about the relationship between past and present that are taken for granted by the majority of practicing historians. We seek to encourage the critical examination of history’s influence on politics and the politics of the discipline of history itself. No history journal currently published has devoted itself specifically to fostering this work and providing a dedicated forum for it. Indeed, at a moment when history, and the social sciences more generally, seems preoccupied with the fantasy of retrieving pre-critical empirical knowledge, a journal committed to history as a form of critique seems more necessary than ever. It is in the rigorous, theoretically-informed writing of history, based mainly on evidence from archives, texts, and other sources, rather than writing about “history” from an abstract philosophical or historiographical perspective, that our contributors will offer readers an alternative to approaches that predominate in existing journals.



Liberalism’s Incestuous Subject: Private and Public Sex in the Nineteenth-Century United States

  Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century and reaching its apex in the mid-nineteenth century, a discourse of the private family came to dominate normative visions of social and political life in the United States. Where previously the family had been conceived as the central institution of social and economic life, serving as a "little commonwealth" analogous to the state, by the mid-nineteenth century, at least in prescriptive literature and sentimental novels, the family was private, increasingly cut off from economic production and political life.



Friends for Dinner: The Early Modern Roots of Modern Carnivorous Sensibilities

  I recently sat across from a colleague at dinner who informed me that she had decided to eat only free-range meats, not simply because they were presumably better for one’s health, but because she found it troubling to participate in any way whatsoever in the suffering of animals. She is not alone. A recent New York Times article reported on the trend in Europe, and more recently in the United States, to kill chickens by gassing them rather than the traditional method of slitting their throats, in an effort to appeal to consumers who prefer their meat to be “humanely slaughtered.” It seems like an idea whose time has come: that there is no reason why we cannot be both compassionate and carnivorous.



Carnival Balls and Penal Codes: Body Politics in July Monarchy France

  Over the past several decades, historians have focused on the absence and occasional presence of women in public spaces and in the normative realm of reasoned discussion that is described as the public sphere. They have elaborated and critically interrogated theoretical formulations of modern liberal politics as based on an opposition between, on the one hand, a rational, abstractable, public, and male citizen, and on the other, a sensible, particularized, and private femininity.



Primitive Art, Primitive Accumulation, and the Origin of the Work of Art in German New Guinea

  One of the most important ways that European artists created an identifiably modern art was by turning to the aesthetic productions of Africa, the Pacific, and elsewhere as “primitive” inspirations for their own painting and sculpture. The German expressionist painter Emil Nolde was unusual among these in that he, unlike Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, and many other European enthusiasts for primitive art and life, involved himself in an official capacity in the European colonial enterprise. In 1913–1914 Nolde took part in a major medical expedition sent by the German Colonial Office to study the causes of population decline in the colony of New Guinea.



Interventions: Neoliberalized Knowledge

  Only a few years ago, “crisis of the humanities” might have referred to the long slow decline in the numbers of university students studying the humanities, or to one or another element of the culture wars—identity politics, poststructuralism, new historicism, cultural studies, politicized teaching and research, Eurocentrism, the politics of literary canons.



Interventions: Provincializing Fraser’s History: Feminism and Neoliberalism Revisited

  In “Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History,” recently published in the New Left Review, Nancy Fraser holds second-wave feminism responsible for having lost the integral, multi-dimensional approach that accounted for its power vis-à-vis capitalism and enabled it to struggle against political, economic, and social inequalities all at once.




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About the Journal
History of the Present is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal, with issues appearing in the fall and spring.
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