History and mental spaces

I love studying history. I really do. As a good student of the antebellum era I have been following the vitriol from the virtual pen of Gordon Wood for the last several days and the discussion it has raised, and have come to the conclusion that the sorts of discussions inspired by his criticisms of Dr. Lepore need to happen. Moreover, it strikes me that these discussions need to happen in person, in public, and regularly. To make this perhaps more personal for some of you, let me expound on a formative period in own experience: Lincoln-Douglas debates. For those of you not nerd enough to participate in this fine academic tradition, let me just say that the LD debate (as it is known) puts two people in a room with nothing but their prepared writings and a judge to arbitrate between them. The AHA meeting this year would have been much better if the panelists would have done more od this type of debating. Jill and Gordon could at least (as much better scholars than myself have pointed out) tried to reconcile their philosophical differences in a civilized but rigorous LD debate. I wish that sort of thing could come back to history. I feel like we might all be better historians for it.

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