The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991

Review Essay
History and Post-Modern Education
WILLIAM H. GOETZMANN *
Historical Literacy: The Case for History in American Education. Ed. Paul
Gagnon and the Bradley Commission on History in Schools. New
York and London: Macmillan, 1989. Pp. xiii + 338. Preface, notes,
appendixes, index. $24.95, cloth.
"Cowabunga, Dude!"-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Masters of
the Universe, Robocops, Ghost Busters, transformation toys-mutants
all, with a brief instant erzatz history, no human social matrix, no tem-
poral identity-indicate that today's children are being launched into a
world that is "post-modern" when most parents do not even know the
meaning of the word, nor its implications. Since the early part of this
century, science, with relativity theory and its uncertainty principle; an-
thropology, with its cultural relativism (one culture, no matter which, is
as good as another); psychology and psychiatry, which revealed the
free-associating world of the demonic subconscious and the idea of un-
conscious collective dreams; art that rejects the representational and
the "deep space" that our ordinary vision tells us is there in favor of
cubism and the "splash and drip" school; literature that, when it is com-
prehensible, exists for the moment; New Journalism, used-up copy
instead of enduring tales; every man or woman his or her own case his-
torian, hence self-referential historical relativism; the prominence of
space probes and imaginary geography; the collapse of family; the ab-
stract mumbo jumbo of business, with stock markets that change in the
blink of an eye; the instability of governments; overexposure to the
*William H Goetzmann holds the Jack Blanton Chair in History and American Studies at
the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of numerous works including the Pulitzer
Prize-winning Exploration and Empire (1966). He authored the award-winning PBS series "The
West of the Imagination" and coauthored the book of the same title (1986) with his son,
William N. Goetzmann.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/. Accessed July 1, 2015.