Wednesday, February 28, 2007

If a frontier falls and no one hears it.

Frederick Jackon Turner read his seminal paper, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History," at the July 12, 1893, meeting of the American Historical Society in Chicago. Wikipedia says his lecture was "famous," but that would have surprised anyone there that night:
Turner's frontier thesis was to become well known to later generations of scholars and to stimulate much debate and controversy, yet it occasioned almost no reaction or comment on the evening it was read. Even the historians who received copies of the paper responded with little more than polite interest. For example, Dr. Francis Walker, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after receiving a copy of the paper wrote to Turner that he hoped to 'find time in the future to read the paper.'
Daisy L. Machado, Of Borders and Margins: Hispanic Disciples in Texas, 1888-1945 23-24 (Oklahoma University Press, 2003). Via Paul Nightingale on the Pynchon List.

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