Not only our major “state of the field” essays on this blog, including particularly the fine guest posts by Daniel Wickberg and, more recently, Angus Burgin, but also the “state of the field” forums those two guest essays discuss, all alike acknowledge and contend with the continued importance of the 1977 Wingspread Conference on New Directions in American Intellectual History. To even mention “Wingspread” is to gesture toward one of the most significant developments in the historiography of our subdiscipline. Wingspread is one of those things that Every U.S. Intellectual Historian Needs to Know – or at least know about.
But I wonder if many of our readers have had an experience similar to mine: seeing Wingspread mentioned on this blog (or elsewhere) as a particularly important historiographic marker without first having a clear idea of what was being discussed. If you happened to stumble onto this blog before you stumbled into the systematic study of historiography – as was my case – then perhaps this happened to you. Continue reading