WASHINGTON -- C.P. Snow’s depiction of a “gulf of mutual incomprehension” separating scientists from humanists may date to 1959, but it’s still relevant – and cited -- in discussions of the humanities in 2009. Panelists speaking Monday on “The Public Good: The Humanities in a Civil Society” cited Snow in describing a need to better bridge that gulf -- with the consequences of failing to do so exacting a real and human price, argued Patty Stonesifer, chair of the Board of Regents for the Smithsonian Institution and senior adviser to the trustees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
How do historians become historians? That's the question answered in the essays of Becoming Historians, just published by the University of Chicago Press. Among those contributing -- senior scholars in the field today -- are Joan Wallach Scott, Linda Gordon, David A. Hollinger and the two co-editors of the volume, James M. Banner Jr. and John R. Gillis. Banner, co-founder of the National History Center and historian-in-residence at American University; and Gillis, professor emeritus at Rutgers University, responded to questions about the book.