History of the Present

Launch of a Ground-Breaking Journal

June 1, 2011

A ground-breaking new journal devoted to history as a critical endeavor has been launched by the University of Illinois Press.  History of the Present seeks 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. The journal will 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.

History of the Present, which is to be published bi-annually in the summer and winter, is jointly edited by the internationally-known historian, Joan Wallach Scott of the Institute for Advanced Study, joined on the editorial board by Andrew Aisenberg of Scripps College, Brian Connolly of the University of South Florida, Ben Kafka of the Steinhardt School at NYU, Sylvia Schafer of the University of Connecticut, and Mrinalini Sinha of the University of Michigan.

History of the Present will provide a needed outlet for work we think of as ‘theorized history,’ work that draws on theoretical perspectives (psychoanalytic, Marxist, poststructuralist, etc.) to critically analyze the categories used to think about the present and the past,” said Joan Wallach Scott. “No other journal does that, and if our first issue is any indication, there’s no shortage of original scholarship to publish.”

The journal’s objective is to showcase articles that exemplify the practice of what might be called theorized empirical history. It is in the actual writing of history, based on evidence from archival, textual and other sources, that the journal’s contributors will offer readers an alternative to approaches that predominate in existing journals. A good number of established and new scholars in the United States and abroad are doing exciting and important critical historical writing of this sort. No history journal currently published, however, has devoted itself specifically to fostering this work and providing a dedicated forum for it.

The first issue of History of the Present interrogates categories that are often used in common sense ways. Andrew Zimmerman juxtaposes “primitive art” and “primitive accumulation”; Brian Connolly examines the discourse of incest in nineteenth-century America; Judith Surkis looks at sexual difference in the policing of crimes of “indecency” in early nineteenth-century France; and Paul Friedland  offers a geneaology of the discourse of humane slaughter which has surfaced in recent discussions of eating animals.  Each essay speaks in a different way to the critical examination of “Limits”, the theme of the inaugural issue.  They exemplify the journal’s commitment to scholarship that embodies thinking not only about how rules, norms, boundaries and borders are established, but also about how they are exceeded, contested, transgressed, and transformed.

To subscribe to History of the Present,please visit the journal’s website at http://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/hop.html.

Contributions to the journal are welcomed and submission guidelines can be found on the journal’s website, www.historyofthepresent.org.


For more press information please contact Jeff McArdle, Associate Journals Manager at the University of Illinois Press, jmcardle@uillinois.edu or 217-244-0381 or Andrea Volpe, Managing Editor for History of the Present, editors@historyofthepresent.org.
The Facebook page for History of the Present can be found at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/History-of-the-Present/183179215060880

Notes to editors

  • Joan Wallach Scott is a historian of France with contributions in gender history and intellectual history. She is currently the Harold F. Linder Professor at the School of Social Science in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She has written or edited nearly 20 books, including The Glassworkers of Carmaux: French Craftsmen and Political Action in a Nineteenth Century City (Harvard University Press, 1974); Women, Work and Family (coauthored with Louise Tilly) (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978); Gender and the Politics of History (Columbia University Press, 1988); Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (Harvard University Press, 1996); Parité: Sexual Difference and the Crisis of French Universalism (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and "The Politics of the Veil" (Princeton University Press, 2007).
  • Founded in 1918, the University of Illinois Press ranks as one of the country’s larger and most distinguished university presses. It publishes works of high quality for scholars, students, and the citizens of the state and beyond.  More information about the University of Illinois Press and History of the Present can be found here:  http://www.press.uillinois.edu/journals/hop.html.


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