College of Humanities and Social Sciences
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Alumnus Townsend Publishes History of the Historical Enterprise


Robert B. Townsend (PhD 2009) has published History's Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880 - 1940.

His publisher, the University of Chicago Press, explains that "Drawing on extensive research among the records of the American Historical Association and a multitude of other sources, Townsend traces the slow fragmentation of the field from 1880 to the divisions of the 1940s manifest today in the diverse professions of academia, teaching, and public history. By revealing how the founders of the contemporary historical enterprise envisioned the future of the discipline, he offers insight into our own historical moment and the way the discipline has adapted and changed over time. Townsend’s work will be of interest not only to historians but to all who care about how the professions of history emerged, how they might go forward, and the public role they still can play."

The book is based on Townsend's dissertation, which he wrote under the supervision of Professors Roy Rosenzweig and Peter Stearns, with Professor Rosemarie Zagarri of the department and Professor Rosemary Jann of the English department as additional committee members. Townsend is currently the deputy director of the American Historical Association.



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