Historians, as a profession, are understandably fascinated by change. Civilizations, as a phenomenon, are properly concerned with conservation. Tension is inevitable when the former apply criteria of success and failure ill-suited to the goals of the latter. The best recent evidence: C-Span has just released its Presidential Historian’s Survey for 2017. It is proof that historians celebrate Presidents the more change they achieve while consigning them to obscurity for governing prudently according to circumstance.
In response to: Springtime for Schmitt
Drew Maciag's Edmund Burke in America is a historiographical essay. After a brief introduction, the author proceeds to a short chapter laying out his interpretation of Burke’s thought, then reviews and characterizes various interpretations of Burke’s work by Americans, beginning in the late eighteenth century and proceeding more or less chronologically through to the present day. Historiographical essays can be quite interesting and helpful for examining the preoccupations and prominent points of view of intellectuals over time. All thinkers of any real stature have within their work a set of assumptions, concerns, and goals that may receive varying emphases depending on…