"Each language only helps me tell you how grand you are"Where are all the 19th century Europeanists? A painful question that I am not alone in pondering. The blogosphere seems rife for discussions about gender history, American history, early modern and medieval history, even print history, but modern Europe (outside of Victorian literature and the endless discussions about appeasement) seems to have fallen through the cracks. Even though I research the nineteenth century (to be precise, I feel comfortable in the period starting with the Late Enlightenment and I avoid the Third Reich like the plague) I gave up blogging about history pre-1900.
AIR at Air Pollution, a graduate student of the history of modern France and Sexuality (and to a lesser extent, Germany and Britain), does not like this state of affairs, and I agree with him. So much history has been positioned with regard to the world the nineteenth century made that it ought not be ignored. Nation, industry, empire, global commerce, other -- even if they have roots in earlier periods, the 19th century made them familiarly modern. (Something tells me that the fault lies with Americans who won't meet the graduate school requirements to become Europeanists.)
Unfortunately, the blogosphere is not a continuous cyberspace. Bloggers amalgamate around topics and other blogs. It cannot perfectly reflect what goes on in the academic world. Subsequently, the 19th century, overrepresented in our libraries, can be digitally underrepresented.
The cybervoids (if they could be called that) can also separate nations and languages. Francis Pisani has already cynically inverted his question about multilingualism in the blogosphere (about which I write here): should blogs be limited to nations? Should bloggers in France care about what Belgians, Moroccans, Senegalese, Swiss, or Quebecoises say, think, or feel? Hell, why should Americans care about the thoughts of Brits, Australians or Canadians? Perhaps there are some nations that don't care to participate in this type of forum, as appears to be the case with Germany. The blogosphere can be an undeveloped landscapes: beautiful land, but no roads to cross it.