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Journal article

Gaps in the record: hidden internationalisms

2001

Abstract

The true subtitle of this lecture is a question: why was George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion first produced in German, in Vienna? And the lecture as a whole is about a number of such questions that I can't answer. It is less about gaps in the material record - that is to say, the physical existence of documentation (though it touches on this issue) - than it is about an absence in historical writing: an absence of history, of narrative, that crosses barriers of nationality and language. It is a simple fact that historical subjects cross these barriers, but historical research, publication and teaching very often do not. I am particularly concerned with the second of these barriers, because in our day it seems to be much the most formidable; and I would even go so far as to suggest that in much research which is undertaken within language frontiers, it is possible to sustain an illusion of internationalism which cloaks a reality of largely domestic incident and inward-looking discussion.

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