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Exceptionalism in 19th century American Historiography


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Furjanić, Lovro. (2018). Exceptionalism in 19th century American Historiography. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature
Department of History. [mentor Grgas, Stipe and Janković, Branimir].

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American exceptionalism is one of the most basic constitutive elements of the American national identity. There is an exceedingly wide body of texts which contribute to the crucial role exceptionalism has played in American self-perception. This paper is primarily a theoretical introduction to the study of the way historiography contributes to the myth of American exceptionalism. The myth and symbol school of American studies and theory of historiography are the natural starting points for this research. Although the paradigms defined by the early myth and symbol scholars are no longer the most prominent analytical tools in American studies, this paper argues that they doubtlessly carry contemporary relevance and can contribute to a holistic understanding of the American experience. The main thesis of this paper is that the methodology of a single discipline does not create an explanatory framework which is potent enough to properly analyze the nuances of the complex object of this research. Consequently, the insights and methodologies of different disciplines are needed to accurately conduct this research. In this context, the various approaches to disciplinarity, such as interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity or transdisciplinarity are reviewed. In a general sense, these concepts correspond to the key ideas behind this research, as they are open to a wide plethora of different insights and the use of widely differing tools in search for knowledge. However, in spite of a general movement towards such perceptions of disciplinarity, these concepts are not free of their own points of tension. From terminological uncertainties to questionable strategic contributions to the development of science, it is necessary to keep a critical approach to these useful concepts. The disciplinary framework which is most precisely aligned to the approach used in this paper is postdisciplinarity. After the theoretical introduction, this paper features a detailed case study of John Lothrop Motley's "Polity 56 of the Puritans". Despite the unequivocal presence of exceptionalist ethos in Motley's text, it is necessary to point out that the elements of exceptionalism in the text are presented in a thoughtprovoking and critical way.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: disciplinarity, exceptionalism, John Lothrop Motley, American studies, historiography
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Department of History
Supervisor: Grgas, Stipe and Janković, Branimir
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2018 11:51
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2018 11:51

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