Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 213–230 | Cite as

Culture, structure, and the “new” history: A critique and an agenda

  • Harry S. Stout
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  1. 1.
    Thomas S. Kuhn,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Frank L. Owlsey,Plain Folk of the Old South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1949); Merle Curti, et al.,The Making of an American Community: A Case Study of Democracy in a Frontier Town (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1959).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Quoted in “New Trends in History,”Daedalus, 98 (1969), 891.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Robert P. Swierenga, “Computers and American History: The Impact of the ‘New’ Generation,”Journal of American History 60:4 (March, 1974), 1045–70. See also William O. Aydelotte,Quantification in History (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1971), 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Quoted in Robert P. Swierenga, ed.,Quantification in American History Theory and Research (New York: Atheneum, 1970), 33.Google Scholar
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    David S. Landes and Charles Tilly,History As Social Science (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1971), 10.Google Scholar
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    William O. Aydelotte, Allan G. Bogue, and Robert William Fogel, eds.,The Dimensions of Quantitative Research in History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), 11.Google Scholar
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    Joel H. Silbey, “Clio and Computers: Moving Into Phase II, 1970–1972,”Computers and the Humanities, 7 (1972), 68.Google Scholar
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    See essays cited in Robert P. Swierenga, “Computers and American History.” Since Swierenga's essay see Richard J. Jensen, “Quantitative American Studies: The State of the Art,”American Quarterly, 26:3 (August, 1974), 225–40; Robert William Fogel, “The Limits of Quantitative Methods in History,”American Historical Review, 80:2 (1975), 320–50; and Charlotte Erickson, “Quantitative History,”American Historical Review, 80:2 (1975), 352–65. See also the bibliography of computer-related research in history, 1973–74 inComputers and the Humanities, 9:3 (May 1975), 130–35.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    See, e.g., Kenneth A. Lockridge, “Social Change and the Meaning of the American Revolution,”Journal of Social History, 6:4 (Summer 1973), 403–39; and Richard D. Brown, “Modernization and the Modern Personality in Early America, 1600–1865: A Sketch of a Synthesis,”Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2 (Winter 1972), 201–28. For sociological treatments of modernization compatible with the New History see Cyril E. Black,The Dynamics of Modernization: A Study in Comparative History (New York: Harper & Row, 1966); Marion J. Levy, Jr.,Modernization and the Structure of Societies (2 vols., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966); or Neil J. Smelser, “Toward a Theory of Modernization,” in hisEssays in Sociological Explanation (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968). For readings on the political and psychological ramifications of modernization see Richard D. Brown, “Modernization and the Modern Personality.”Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Richard D. Brown, “Modernization and the Modern Personality.” In addition to Brown, other studies making explicit use of modernization theory include David Crow, “Definitions of Modernity,”Journal of Social History, 7:1 (Fall 1973), 51–74; E.A. Wrigley, “The Process of Modernization and the Industrial Revolution in England,”Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 3:2 (Autumn 1972), 225–59; and Daniel Scott Smith, “Population, Family and Society in Hingham, Massachusetts, 1635–1880,” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1972).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Richard D. Brown, “Modernization and the Modern Personality,” 201.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    I am using the term “revolution” here to denote a type of radical (supposedly) nonreversible social change that, to borrow metaphors from Gene Wise and Kenneth Lockridge, passes a “breaking point” or critical “threshold.” See Gene Wise,American Historical Explanations: A Strategy for Grounded Inquiry (Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1973); and Kenneth Lockridge, “Social Change and the Meaning of the American Revolution.”Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See works cited in Robert P. Swierenga, “Computers and American History,” 1059–60; and Joel H. Silbey, “Clio and Computers, Phase II,” 69–71.Google Scholar
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    Robert Fogel and Stanley Engerman,Time on the Cross; The Economics of American Negro Slavery (2 vols., Boston: Little, Brown, 1974).Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Stuart Bruchey,Growth of the Modern American Economy (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1975). See also in a synthetic vein: W. Elliot Brownlee,Dynamics of Ascent: A History of the American Economy (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1974); Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, eds.,The Reinterpretation of American Economic History (New York: Harper & Row, 1971); Douglas C. North,Growth and Welfare in the American Past (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966); and Lance Davis, et al.,American Economic Growth (New York, 1972).Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    See works cited in Robert P. Swierenga, “Computers and American History,” 1052–55; Joel H. Silbey, “Clio and Computers, Phase II,” 73–78; Richard J. Jensen, “Quantitative American Studies,” and Richard L. McCormick, “Ethno-Cultural Interpretations of Nineteenth-Century Voting Behavior,”Political Science Quarterly, 89:2 (June 1974), 351–77.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Richard D. Brown, “Modernization and the Modern Personality”; Eric Foner, “The Causes of the Civil War: Recent Interpretations and New Directions,”Civil War History, 20:3 (September 1974), 197–214. See also Raimondo Luraghi, “The Civil War and the Modernization of American Society: Social Structure and Industrial Revolution in the Old South before and during the War,”Civil War History, 18 (September 1972), 230–50.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See works cited in Robert P. Swierenga, “Computers and American History,” 1055–59; Richard Jensen, “Quantitative American Studies”; and Charles Tilly, “Computers in Historical Analysis,”Computers and the Humanities 7:6 (November 1973), 323–35. For a good overview of American social history in the early period see James Henretta,The Evolution of American Society: 1700–1815 An Interdisciplinary Analysis (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1973).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Stephan Thernstrom,The Other Bostonians (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973).Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    For recent critiques of the modernization concept see especially S.N. Eisenstadt, “Studies of Modernization and Sociological Theory,”History and Theory, 13:3 (1974), 225–52; and Dean C. Tipps, “Modernization Theory and the Comparative Study of Societies: A Critical Perspective,”Comparative Studies in Society and History, 15:2 (March 1973), 199–225.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Max Weber,The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (trans. Talcott Parsons, New York: The Free Press, 1964), 103–4. See, in general, Weber'sThe Methodology of the Social Sciences (trans. Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch, New York: The Free Press, 1949).Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    For introductions to Parsons' theory, see, for example, Stephen Cole,The Sociological Orientation (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1975); Ivan Vallier, ed.,Comparative Methods in Sociology: Essays on Trends and Applications (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); or Richard F. Appelbaum,Theories of Social Change (Chicago, 1970). On the dominance of Parsonian theory in sociology until quite recently see especially Robert W. Friedrichs,A Sociology of Sociology (New York: The Free Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See especially Talcott Parsons,Toward a General Theory of Action (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951);The Social System (New York: The Free Press, 1951); andSocieties Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966).Google Scholar
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    See especiallyThe Social System.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    For a general survey of structural-functional theory see Amitai Etzioni and Eva Etzioni-Halevy, eds.,Social Change: Sources, Patterns, Consequences (rev. ed., New York: Basic Books, 1973), especially Parts II and III.Google Scholar
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    SeeSocieties; and “On Building Social Systems Theory: A Personal History,”Daedalus, 99 (1970), 826–81.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    For a concise illustration seeibid. Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Talcott Parsons,Toward A General Theory of Action, 166. Parsons goes on to distintuish three “types” of cultural symbol systems: cognitive (ideas, beliefs), cathectic (affective), and evaluative (value-orientation). See also, “Culture and Social System Revisited,” in Louis Schneider and Charles M. Bonjean, eds.,The Idea of Culture in the Social Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 33–46; and “Religion in Postindustrial America: The Problem of Secularization,”Social Research, 41:2 (Summer 1974), 193–225. For the historical implications of functional analyses of culture see Harry S. Stout and Robert Taylor, “Sociology, Religion and Historians Revisited: Towards An Historical Sociology of Religion,”Historical Methods Newsletter, 8:1 (December 1974), 29–38.Google Scholar
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    Talcott Parsons, “Theory in the Humanities and Sociology,”Daedalus, 99 (1970), 498–99.Google Scholar
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    Talcott Parsons,The Structure of Social Action (2 ed., Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1949), 730–31.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ibid., 753.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Talcott Parsons, “On Building Social Systems Theory,” 831. See alsoThe Structure of Social Action, 595; orThe Social System, 3.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rowland Berthoff,An Unsettled People: Social Order and Disorder in American History (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), xii.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gilbert Ryle,The Concept of Mind (New York: Harper & Row, 1949).Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    The term and concept is taken from Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann,The Social Construction of Reality, A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Doubleday, 1966).Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    For the finest application of phenomenological theory to social action see Alfred Schutz,Collected Papers, vol. I:The Problem of Social Reality (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1967). Also helpful on phenomenology and the social sciences are: Maurice Natanson, ed.,Phenomenology and the Social Sciences (2 vols., Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1973); and Maurice Roche,Phenomenology, Language and the Social Sciences (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1973). Larry Shiner, “A Phenomenological Approach to Historical Knowledge,”History and Theory, 8 (1969), 260–74.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ward H. Goodenough,Cooperation in Change (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1963), 253–54.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    See especially Alfred Louis Kroeber and Clyde Kluckholm,Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions (New York: Harper and Row, 1963).Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Clifford Geertz,The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973), 14.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Robert Nisbet, “The Problem of Social Change,” in hisSocial Change (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 14–15. This paragraph is heavily indebted to Nisbet's discussion of discontinuous change.Google Scholar
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    David Stewart and Algis Mickunas,Exploring Phenomenology (Chicago: American Library Association, 1974), 129.Google Scholar
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    Robert Nisbet, “The Problem of Social Change.”Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    See especially, Philip J. Greven, Jr.,Four Generations: Population, Land, and Family in Colonial Andover, Massachusetts (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970); and Kenneth A. Lockridge,A New England Town: The First Hundred Years (New York: W.W. Norton, 1970).Google Scholar
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    Gordon S. Wood,The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969); Kenneth Lockridge, “Social Change and the Meaning of the American Revolution”; and Richard Hofstadter,The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780–1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    E.P. Thompson, “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism,”Past and Present, 38 (December 1967), 56–97. See also, in American history, Herbert G. Gutman, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815–1919,”American Historical Review, 78:3 (June 1973), 531–88.Google Scholar
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    Richard D. Brown, “The Emergence of Urban Society in Rural Massachusetts, 1760–1820,”Journal of American History, 61:1 (June 1974), 29–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Thomas S. Kuhn,The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 91.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    See the collected essays in John Higham,Writing American History: Essays on Modern Scholarship (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
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    Merle Curti,The Growth of American Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1943).Google Scholar
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    Leonard Krieger, “The Autonomy of Intellectual History,”Journal of the History of Ideas, 34 (1973), 499–516; Rush Welter, “The History of Ideas in America: An Essay in Redefinition,”Journal of American History 51:4 (March 1965), 599–614; Felix Gilbert, “Cultural History and Its Problems,”Rapports, I (1960), 40–58.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Jacques Barzun, “Cultural History as a Synthesis,” in Fritz Stern, ed.,The Varieties of History: From Voltaire to the Present (New York: Meridian, 1956), 387–402. On the “culture concept,” see especially Robert E. Berkhofer, Jr., “Clio and the Culture Concept: Some Impressions of a Changing Relationship in American Historiography,”Social Science Quarterly, 53:2 (1972), 297–320.Google Scholar
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    David Brion Davis, “Some Recent Directions in American Cultural History,”American Historical Review, 73 (1968), 696–707. See also Felix Gilbert “Intellectual History: Its Aims and Methods,”Daedalus, 100 (1971), 80–97; and Henry Nash Smith, “Can ‘American Studies’ Develop a Method?”American Quarterly, 9:2 (Summer 1957), 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Gene Wise,American Historical Explanations, xiii. A significant exception is J.G.A. Pocock, whose essays are conveniently summarized inPolitics, Language and Time Essays on Political Thought and History (New York: Atheneum, 1971).Google Scholar
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    H. Stuart Hughes, “The Historian and the Social Scientist,”American Historical Review, 66 (1960), 20–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    George Herbert Mead,Mind, Self, and Society, From the Standpoint of a Social Behaviorist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934).Google Scholar
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    See especially Leslie A. White,The Science of Culture (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1949); and George Herbert Mead,Mind, Self, and Society.Google Scholar
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    Ernst Cassirer,Language and Myth (trans. Susanne K. Langer, New York: Dover Press, 1953), 8.Google Scholar
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    My identification of social action as “purposive” action is heavily influenced by Weber'sTheory of Social and Economic Organization and Schutz'sCollected Papers, 19–22.Google Scholar
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    Ward H. Goodenough, “Culture, Language, and Society,” inCurrent Topics in Anthropology (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1971), 2. See also Goodenough's “Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics,” in Dell Hymes, ed.,Language in Culture and Society: A Reader in Linguistics and Anthropology (New York: Harper and Row, 1964), 37.Google Scholar
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    Max Black,The Labyrinth of Language (New York: Praeger, 1968), 10. See also, Susanne K. Langer,Philosophy in a New Key: A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1942).Google Scholar
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    See especially Peter Berger, Brigitte Berger, and Hansfried Kellner,The Homeless Mind Modernization and Consciousness (New York: Vintage Books, 1973), 63–82.Google Scholar
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    Ibid.See especially.Google Scholar
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    On the modern “disjunction” of culture and structure see, for example, Daniel Bell, “The Disjunction of Culture and Social Structure: Some Notes on the Meaning of Social Reality,”Daedalus, 94 (Winter 1965), 208–22; Rollo May, ed.,Symbolism in Religion and Literature (New York, 1960); or John Higham, “Hanging Together: Divergent Unities in American History,”Journal of American History, 61 (1974), 5–28.Google Scholar
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    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “Politics and the American Language,”The American Scholar, 43 (Autumn 1974), 556.Google Scholar
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    Peter Berger, Brigitte Berger, and Hansfried Kellner,The Homeless Mind, 79.Google Scholar
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    H. Stuart Hughes,History as Art and Science: Twin Vistas on the Past (New York: Harper & Row, 1964), 40.Google Scholar
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    Harold A. Innis,Empire and Communications (rev. ed., Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972); Marshall McLuhan,The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man (reprinted, New York: Signet Books, 1969); Walter J. Ong, S.J.,The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967).Google Scholar
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    Walter J. Ong, S.J.,The Presence of the Word, 1–16.Google Scholar
  70. 70.
    Marshall McLuhan,The Gutenberg Galaxy, 197.Google Scholar
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    This theme has been more fully developed in my “The Protestant Ethos and the Spirit of Republicanism,” unpubl. ms., 1975.Google Scholar
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    See for example, Jack Goody, ed.,Literacy in Traditional Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968); Lawrence Stone, “Literacy and Education in England, 1640–1900,”Past and Present, 42 (February 1969), 103–12; Michael Sanderson, “Literacy and Social Mobility in the Industrial Revolution in England,”Past and Present, 56 (1972); and David Cressy, “Literacy in Pre-Industrial England,”Societas, 4:3 (Summer 1974), 229–40. For an outstanding discussion of literacy in general see Jack Goody and Ian Watt, “The Consequences of Literacy,”Comparative Studies in Society and History, 5:3 (1963), 304–45.Google Scholar
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    Kenneth A. Lockridge,Literacy in Colonial New England: An Enquiry Into the Social Context of Literacy in the Early Modern West (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974).Google Scholar
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    Bernard Bailyn,Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1960).Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    See James Axtell,The School Upon a Hill: Education and Society in Colonial New England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974); and Lawrence A. Cremin,American Education: The Colonial Experience 1607–1783 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970).Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    James Axtell,The School Upon a Hill, 184–85. On the changing role of memory in Western society see Frances Yates,The Art of Memory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).Google Scholar
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    Marshall McLuhan,The Gutenberg Galaxy, 128, 193.Google Scholar
  78. 78.
    Four suggestive works in this context are Harold Innis,Empire and Communications; Allan R. Pred,Urban Growth and the Circulation of Information in the United States System of Cities, 1790–1840 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974); James Sterling Young,The Washington Community 1800–1828 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966); and John R. Howe,From the Revolution through the Age of Jackson Innocence and Empire in the Young Republic (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973), especially 94–116.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Some preliminary information on this subject can be found in Rollo G. Silver,The American Printer, 1787–1825 (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1967); John Tebbel,The Compact History of the American Newspaper (rev. ed., New York: Hawthorn Books, 1969); Leonard A. Drake,Trends in the New York Printing Industry (New York: Columbia University Press, 1940); Lawrence C. Wroth,A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland, 1686–1776 (Baltimore: Typothetae, 1922); Isaiah Thomas,The History of Printing in America with a Biography of Printers and an Account of Newspapers (2 vols., Albany, NY: Joel Munsell, 1874; reprinted Barre, MA: Imprint Society, 1970); Edward Connery Lathem, compl.,Chronological Tables of American Newspapers 1690–1820 (Barre, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1972); and Clarence S. Brigham,History and Bibliography of American Newspapers 1690–1820 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1962). Arthur M. Schlesinger,Prelude to Independence: The Newspaper War on Britain 1764–1776 (reprinted New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966); Frank Luther Mott,American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States Through 250 Years 1690 to 1940 (New York: Macmillan, 1947); and Douglas C. McMurtie,A History of Printing in the United States (New York, 1936; reprinted New York: Burt Franklin, 1969).Google Scholar
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    See Elizabeth Christine Cook,Literary Influences in Colonial Newspapers 1704–1750 (reprinted, Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1966); or Clyde A. Duniway,The Development of Freedom of the Press in Massachusetts (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966).Google Scholar
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    Richard D. Brown, “The Emergence of Urban Society in Rural Massachusetts,” 38.Google Scholar
  82. 82.
    On the methods of content analysis see Thomas F. Carney,Content Analysis: A Technique for Systematic Inference from Communications (Winnipeg, 1972); Charles M. Dollar and Richard J. Jensen,Historian's Guide to Statistics Quantitative Analysis and Historical Research (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1971), 205–14; Ole R. Holsti,Content Analysis for the Social Sciences and Humanities (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1969); or J. Zvi Namenwirth, “Wheels of Time and the Interdependence of Value Change in America,”Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 3:4 (Spring, 1973), 649–84.Google Scholar
  83. 83.
    One effort to develop an historically conscious content analysis of Massachusetts election sermons is outlined by Harry S. Stout and Robert Taylor inThe Newberry Papers, forthcoming.Google Scholar
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    Richard Koebner, “Semantics and Historiography”;The Cambridge Journal 7 (December 1953), 131–44.Google Scholar
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    See Max Weber,The Sociology of Religion (trans. Ephraim Fischoff, Boston: Beacon Press, 1963).Google Scholar
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    Noam Chomsky,Language and Mind (enl. ed., New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1972), 71–72.Google Scholar
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    Noam Chomsky,Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 1965); orCartesian Linguistics (New York: Harper & Row, 1966). For a penetrating series of essays on Chomsky's theory and its implications, see Gilbert Harman, ed.,On Noam Chomsky: Critical Essays (New York: Anchor Books, 1974).Google Scholar
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    One suggestive work in this area is Elizabeth Closs Traugott,A History of English Syntax: A Transformational Approach to the History of English Sentence Structure (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1972). Also helpful (although not so much as its title would indicate), is L.G. Heller,Communicational Analysis and Methodology for Historians (New York: New York University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
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    See e.g., Ernst Cassirer,Language and Myth; Donald A. Schon,Displacement of Concepts (London: Tavistock, 1963); James W. Fernandez, “The Mission of Metaphor in Expressive Culture,”Current Anthropology, 15:2 (June 1974); Clifford Geertz, ed.,Myth Symbol and Culture (New York: W.W. Norton, 1971); or Harvey Brooks, “Scientific Concepts and Cultural Change,”Daedalus, 94 (Winter 1965), 66–82.Google Scholar
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    Donald Fleming, “Attitude: The History of a Concept.”Perspectives in American History, 1 (1967), 287. One work that approaches Fleming's suggestion is M. Van Beek's Study of Puritan influences on the English language inAn Inquiry into Puritan Vocabulary (Groningen: Wolters-Noordhoff, 1969).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pergamon Press, Inc 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry S. Stout
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutUSA

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