Richard Pells

  • Richard Pells: The Obsession With Social History

    Richard Pells is professor of history emeritus at the University of Texas. He is the author of four books on modern American culture, most recently Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies, and the Globalization of American Culture (Yale University Press, 2011).The National Association of Scholars recently released a report excoriating the teaching of American history at the University of Texas at Austin and, to a lesser extent, at Texas A&M University at College Station.The report argues that there is an almost monomaniacal preoccupation in American-history courses withon the issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Meanwhile, it argues, not enough attention is being paid to the history of American politics, economics, and culture, and the military.The report has caused considerable fury among University of Texas historians,and it has apparently incensed American historians at other universities as well. Its critics have accused the association's writers of being conservative assailants who don't know what they're talking about.It's true that the NAS is a conservative organization. Yet being conservative does not by itself make an organization uninformed or invalidate its report....