Please join the History program on September 28th at 5pm for Harvey Neptune’s talk: “The Judgement of CLR James and the Misunderstanding of American Civilization”

“The subject of my talk is a 1950 CLR James manuscript that eventually found publication in 1993 as a book titled American Civilization.  This work has endured a fundamentally perverse reception. Though it is no less critical than James’ other acclaimed scholarly writing, this piece on the US as been written off by most reviewers as lacking his characteristic critical rigor.  Assessments have made the manuscript out to be the product of a mind too overwhelmed with admiration for the Republic to execute a detached and penetrating historical analysis. The talk today corrects this misjudgement of James’ achievement.  A second objective, one that speaks directly to the New World theme of this series, is to link the misunderstanding of American Civilization to reviewers’ larger failure to reckon with James’ geopolitical premise, specifically his presumptive view of the US as a hemispherically familiar postcolony.  Finally, and relevant to my larger book project on postwar Americanist historiography, the talk emphasizes the close affinity between this manuscript and the contemporary scholarship dubbed  ‘consensus history.'”

Harvey Neptune, a professor of History at Temple University, was trained in the fields of African Diaspora and Latin American history. He is particularly interested in recovering experiences, events and movements that highlight the region’s integral place within the history of the modern world.

This is the first talk in the PhD Program in History’s marquee colloquium series, New World Migrations.

Room 5114

The Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave, New York City, NY 10016