American Philosophical Society
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3. Social Sciences[X]
303. History Since 1715[X]
1Name:  Dr. David Hollinger
 Institution:  University of California, Berkeley
 Year Elected:  2017
 Class:  3. Social Sciences
 Subdivision:  303. History Since 1715
 Residency:  Resident
 Living? :   Living
 Birth Date:  1941
From the time of my first publication in 1968, I have worked primarily in the intellectual and ethnoracial histories of the United States. Thematically, my work has been inspired by an essay of 1967 by the great sinologist, Joseph R. Levenson, "The Province, the Nation, the World: The Problem of Chinese Identity." I read this as a graduate student. It led me to engage the tension between provincialism and cosmopolitanism. This tension I have explored in special relation to ethnoracial and religious affiliations. For many years I focused on the relation of Jews to American culture, and later moved to a focus on the varieties of Protestantism and their differing connections to the American nation. Central always has been the diversity of American society, and the challenge Americans have faced in deciding just whom to join with in the forming of communities. Methodologically, my work has been inspired by the scholarship of Perry Miller, the great historian of New England Puritanism, and by the scholarly practices of medievalists. Both of these affected me in graduate school, at the same time I was reading Levenson. Miller showed me what intellectual history could be like, and the medievalists showed me what highly specialized, monographic scholarship on what the Germans call "advanced problems" looked like. I decided early on to try to write modern American history as it would be written by a medievalist. Hence I have written primarily analytic articles in the medievalist manner, focusing on this or that question (e.g., the question of ethnoracial mixture, or the problem of pragmatism). I have aimed not to tell stories, but to answer questions. In keeping with this commitment to the analytic essay as a mode, I published many articles and relatively few book-length studies. This approach to research and writing appealed to me also because it enabled me to address a greater range of topics than if I had followed the normal path for historians, moving from one Big Book to another. Hence four of my books are collections of articles: In the American Province (Indiana University Press, 1985), Science, Jews, and Secular Culture (Princeton University Press, 1996), Cosmopolitanism and Solidarity (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), and After Cloven Tongues of Fire (Princeton University Press, 2013). But I also wrote three more conventionally "book-like" books: Morris R. Cohen and the Scientific Ideal (MIT Press, 1975), Postethnic America (Basic Books, 1995, 2000, and 2006), and Protestants Abroad: How Missionaries Tried to Change the World but Changed America (Princeton University Press, 2017). My entire career has been influenced by the experience of moving out of the church-intensive culture of my upbringing and finding myself more at home in the more or less standard, highly secular culture of the academic life of my generation. I have discussed this experience in an autobiographical essay, "Church People and Others," found within the collection, After Cloven Tongues of Fire.
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