“One can accept the view that the historical record is fragmentary and incomplete, that recovery of the past is partial and difficult, and that historians will never finally agree in their interpretations, and yet can still believe intelligibly and not naively in an objective truth about the past that can be observed and empirically verified. Historians may never see and represent that truth wholly and finally, but some of them will come closer than others, be more complete, more objective, more honest, in their written history, and we will know it, and have known it, when we see it.” Gordon Wood in The New York Review of Books, 1991.
"The intellectual life is indeed an intense and ongoing conversation (occasionally a brawl) into which young academics seek entry and from which scholars draw vitality throughout their careers."(xiii)
"Popular culture is of great interest to me because I am fond of thinking of homes, churches, local libraries, and municipal buildings as the prosaic side of collective memory. In these often unassuming buildings are found things that tell us who we are by shaping out memories of the people, places, institutions, and events that have formed our lives-often in forgettable yet utterly tenacious ways. Religious stuff is a particular category of the things that mark the halls and walls and countertops of everyday life. Why bother to study it? In a nutshell, because there is something irresistable about the fact that human consciousness owes so much to cardboard icons and plastic buttons." (xi)
"And what will enrich our understanding of the worlds in which we live more than an historically informed analysis of the artifacts that articulate the worlds of others?" (pxv)