Introduction:
‘‘Flyers into the Unknown’’
Gender, History, and Psychoanalysis
This tendency on the part of historians to become buried
in their own conservatism strikes me as truly regrettable.
. . . If progress is to be made we must certainly have new
ideas, new points of view, and new techniques. We must be
ready, from time to time, to take flyers into the unknown,
even though some of them may prove wide of the mark.
—william l. langer, ‘‘The Next Assignment’’
That is why we must do justice to Freud.
—michel foucault, Madness and Civilization
I’ve never forgotten the review of my first book, The Glassworkers of
Carmaux (1974), by Professor Harold Parker, a historian at Duke
University. What stayed with me wasn’t the abundant praise he of-
fered (the title of the review was ‘‘A Methodological Gem’’)—though
I surely appreciated that—it was instead his one critical remark (‘‘Is
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