Last week I gave a couple of talks, one at Cambridge on “New Deal Revisionism Revisited” and one at Århus (also known as Aarhus) on “Region, Nation, and Immigration”. I imagine the first talk would have little in it that is new to readers of this blog; the second talk drew on the research I’m now doing for my new book, about which I may have more to say in a while.
But for now a few notes.
1. Denmark is expensive. Holy smokes, I thought England was pricey, but Denmark leaves poor Blighty stumbling at the starting gate in the purchasing-power-parity stakes.
2. During one of many stints on planes-trains-and-automobiles, I watched the Channel Four/NOVA documentary on the Irving trial. It’s an interesting lesson, worth a post perhaps, on the dynamics of denialism and the obligations of historians to know when to quit in demanding proof of a case.
3. European undergraduates and indeed other university people still seem, in the main, quite puzzled by the United States and eager to have as simple an explanation as possible of, as one of my students put it once, “why is America so weird?”
4. It occurred to me to note that (arbitrary but fun!) the best document on how Europeans (at least, used to) see Americans is The Third Man. The twinned pair at the heart of the movie—Holly/Harry—have more in common than at first appears, and the naïve cowboy (check out Holly’s hat and coat, as well as his literary oeuvre) looks like a savior but does damage, just like the con man. Overfed, oversexed, overpaid and over here,1 they’re indistinguishable and in the case of Holly, indistinct; worse, they just don’t know when they’re not wanted.
1The other great European line about the Americans in the 1940s is, “The Brit walks around like he owns the place. The American walks around like he doesn’t give a damn who owns the place.” I don’t know where I got this—maybe from my grandfather? Can’t remember.