“Letting the Past Inform the Present: One Professor’s Journey”
In 2015, I taught a new class on Nazi Germany against the background of the presidential primary campaign. More so than ever before, I was aware of the echoes of the past in the present; my students were as well. Since then, it has been impossible to ignore the intrusion of current events into my classes. As both a history professor and as an opinion writer, I have grappled with my responsibility to welcome a variety of viewpoints while still stressing the importance of intellectual honesty and the rigorous analysis of evidence. But at this moment in history, the concept of “balance” in the traditional sense has ceased to be useful when it serves to obscure present dangers.
Christine Adams is professor of European history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a 2020-21 American Council of Learned Societies fellow and a 2021 Andrew W. Mellon fellow at the Newberry Library. She has published primarily in French gender and family history, most recently, The Creation of the French Royal Mistress: From Agnès Sorel to Madame DuBarry (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2020), co-authored with Tracy Adams, which examines the rise of the royal mistress as a quasi-institutionalized political position in early modern France. She writes frequently on current events and has a particular interest in politics, education, gender and reproductive rights.