Problems With Turner Thesis

Problems With Turner Thesis-4
La conception de l’Ouest en tant que région marque alors le passage à une histoire régionale, loin de la vision turnérienne, qui assimilait l’histoire de la nation à celle de l’Ouest.Plus récemment, les spécialistes du domaine ont cherché à replacer l’Ouest dans un contexte international, en le présentant comme un carrefour où se sont croisés des peuples venus non seulement de l’Est, mais aussi du Sud, du Nord, et de l’Ouest.Ecrivant à la fin du dix-neuvième siècle, le père fondateur de l’histoire de l’Ouest, Frederick Jackson Turner, considère que la singularité du caractère américain résulte de l’expérience de la Frontière.

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Throughout the twentieth century, historians have tried to assess the significance of the West, regarded, by some critics, as "the most distinctively American part of America" (Bryce 315).

In the late nineteenth century, Frederick Jackson Turner, the founding father of Western history, attributed the unique American character to the experience of the frontier.

Véritable point de rencontre de nations et d’empires dès l’époque coloniale, région aux frontières internationales, l’Ouest semble se nourrir, aujourd’hui encore, de ces relations, contacts et interactions entre les peuples.

Since its settlement was the last stage in the completion of the country, thus marking the closing of a crucial period in American history, the West has had a special place in the nation’s self-image, and it has always been considered as central in the construction of American identity.

According to Turner, the westward movement Americanized the pioneer, shaped American institutions, and promoted democracy.

It was a long time before historians started questioning Turner’s "frontier thesis", so strong was the appeal to Americans’ imagination generated by this justification of American exceptionalism.

Billington and Mood also add that the Frontier Thesis is meant to test a new approach to history that Turner had been developing since the beginning of his academic career.

We can fully understand it, then, only by setting it within the framework of the assumptions and goals of his 1891 essay, “The Significance of History,” Turner's only attempt to sketch a philosophy of history.

The "process" at the heart of the frontier experience thus redefines the newcomers’ cultural and national identity, and integrates them into a new, specifically American society.

Observing that three centuries of westward expansion bred national traits that distinguish Americans from Europeans, Turner claimed that "to the frontier the American intellect owes its striking characteristics" (Turner 37), such as individualism, energy, optimism and enthusiasm.


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