Engaging with the Past and Present
The Relationship between Past and Present across the Disciplines
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This collection brings together fifteen essays from practitioners of a variety of disciplines that concern themselves with the past: not only historians, but scholars from other branches of the humanities and social sciences (including theology, art history, public history, and archival science) and natural sciences (including geology, paleontology, astronomy, and paleoanthropology).
What is the relationship between the past and the present? This essential yet seemingly straightforward question, of central importance to many fields of study, in fact yields a variety of answers, with significant repercussions for methodology, epistemology, and pedagogy. This volume’s contributors describe how they relate phenomena in the past and their observations of the present, revealing intellectual resonances and opportunities for dialogue across subjects that are too often walled off from one another. By engaging scholars in a conversation about a first principle of their work, this book offers a genuinely interdisciplinary consideration of a timeless question, with implications for knowledge about both past and present.
Engaging with the Past and Present is full of insights and ideas for anyone seeking to understand the past or employ it as evidence for understanding present realities.
Table of Contents
1. Engaging with the Past and the Present: an Introduction\
Part 1: Past, Present and History
2. Reflections on March Bloch's Maxim
3. When Does the Present Become the Past?
4. Does the Past Matter? In the Shadow of the Growing Footprint of the Future
5. The Big History of Past, Present and Future
Part 2: Past, Present and Human Culture
6. Historical Faith and Faithful History
Nicolas Steeves, SJ
7. Confucian Culture and the Imminence of the Past
8. Past, Present, and Heritage
9. The Continuum between the Past and Present: an Art Historian's View
Gregory T. Clark
10. Digging into the Human Past: Archeology, Time, and the Object
11. Archives: Preserving the Documentary Past
Randolph C. Head
Part 3: Past, Present and Natural History
12. Earth Time: Lessons from the "Boring Billions"
13. The Past and Present in Environmental Science
14. The Past and Present of the Cosmos
15. Disengaging with the Past: Extinction and Resets of the Biosphere
16. The Human Deep Past (Paleoanthropology)
Paul M. Dover is Professor of History at Kennesaw State University. He has published widely in early modern political and cultural history and in the history of information. His most recent book is The Information Revolution in Early Modern Europe (2021).