The emphasis in this collection of articles lies in bringing historical thinking back to the center of American Studies as a part of the international field of Cultural Studies. Even after leaving aside most of its earlier metaphysics, history today speaks to the centrality of change in all that still goes under the time-honored notion of “human development.” This is why history has nothing to do with a particularly traditional way of looking at things. Instead, history provides knowledge of the past for our present. The term “unfamiliar” in the book’s title refers to the need for every American Studies scholar to acknowledge the danger of clinging to conventional attitudes of decency to the extent that they overcome genuine academic awe. Given that information turns into knowledge only by interpreting a selected set of information in some way, it should be evident that academic, research-based knowledge is first and foremost offered as valid only within the disciplinary limits of its relevance. Each methodological decision on what to interpret from one’s material also closes off some other possible readings of the same.