Joan Scott’s groundbreaking work in gender and French history is essential reading for any aspiring historian. Indeed, she last joined us on New Books in French Studies to talk about her 2017 book Sex and Secularism. But her latest work, On the Judgment of History (Columbia UP, 2020), is a markedly different endeavor.
Drawing on three starkly different case studies from modern history, Scott critically examines the widely held belief that history, as the final arbiter of truth, will eventually redeem us. In doing so, she tears apart assumptions that underlie our understanding of history. Scott challenges us to question the persistence of structures of power and the very idea of the nation-state, while encouraging us to rethink whether there truly is such a thing as the judgment of history.