15 March 2019 from 12:45 to 13:45

PhD defence Michail Zontos: 'The legacy of Europe in American progressive historiography'

Immigranten arriveren in New York, 1887 © iStockphoto.com
Immigrants arrive in New York, 1887 © iStockphoto.com

On 15 March 2019 Michail Zontos MA (History) will defend his PhD thesis The legacy of Europe in American progressive historiography: The transatlantic persuasion of Frederick Jackson Turner and Charles Austin Beard at the University Hall. 

The dissertation explores the ways in which Frederick Jackson Turner and Charles Austin Beard, two of the most influential historians of the Progressive Era, perceived the Old World. Turner and Beard have been traditionally perceived as exponents of American exceptionalism and isolationism. The study argues that a careful reading of their work through the theoretical tools of transnationalism, imagology, and reference cultures shows that this traditional view is not sustained and that both historians were preoccupied with Europe throughout their career.

Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) en Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948). Bron: Wikimedia
Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) and Charles Austin Beard (1874-1948). Source: Wikimedia

inclusive transatlanticism

Europe was for both a reference culture, a point of reference that they used in order to measure the role of the United States as both a country and a culture. They both perceived the United States as a rising political, economic, military, and cultural power, however they consistently argued that the exceptional position of the country in world affairs would only be meaningful if their country remained culturally entangled in world affairs. In this way, their conception of American exceptionalism was one that required inclusive transatlanticism and not isolationism.

transatlantic dialogue

The importance of the study in exploring the origins of the transatlantic dialogue and the relations between the New and the Old World is underlined as these themes that were of great significance during the period that saw the United States’ rise as a global power have been revived in our own days which has seen growing nationalistic sentiments and the election of an administration in the United States that has resurrected isolationism as a national policy.

Start date and time
15 March 2019 12:45
End date and time
15 March 2019 13:45
PhD candidate
Michail Zontos
Dissertation
The legacy of Europe in American progressive historiography: The transatlantic persuasion of Frederick Jackson Turner and Charles Austin Beard
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof J. Van Eijnatten
Co-supervisor(s)
Prof J. Verheul