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Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century


reviewed by Christine A. Ogren — January 25, 2008

coverTitle: Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century
Author(s): Jonathan Zimmerman
Publisher: Harvard University Press, Cambridge
ISBN: 0674023617, Pages: 312, Year: 2006
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In Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century, Jonathan Zimmerman’s main interest, like Mark Twain’s in the book’s namesake, is “the Americans themselves, whose overseas experiences underscored their shared attributes” (p. 18).  Zimmerman examined letters, dairies, and other primary documents housed in an impressive variety of state, university, and denominational archives, in order to understand the worldviews of the 150,000-200,000 Americans who taught at the elementary or secondary level in Latin America, Asia, and Africa–“the so-called Third World” (p. 3)–during the twentieth century.  He argues that these worldviews shifted between the century’s early decades and the post-World War II period due to the rise of “the culture concept,” or “the notion of America as a distinct culture–with its own values, symbols, and beliefs,” most especially universalistic “rights”–which increasingly chafed with the concurrent notion that other societies “were also endowed with ‘rights’ to cultural recognition, respect, and preservation” (pp. 6-7).... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: January 25, 2008
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14928, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 8:31:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Christine Ogren
    The University of Iowa
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTINE OGREN is Associate Professor at The University of Iowa, specializing in the history of K-12, higher, and women’s education in the United States. She teaches in the Social Foundations and Higher Education programs in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Chris is the author of The American State Normal School: “An Instrument of Great Good” (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). Her most recent publication is an essay on the historiography of American higher education in Rethinking the History of American Education, ed. William J. Reese and John L. Rury (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), and she is currently beginning research on the Simplified Spelling Movement of the Progressive Era.
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