Deconstructing History: Edition 2

Routledge
1
Free sample

In Deconstructing History, Alun Munslow examines history in the postmodern age. He provides an introduction to the debates and issues of postmodernist history. He also surveys the latest research into the relationship between the past, history and historical practice as well as forwarding his own challenging theories.

The book discusses issues of both empiricist and deconstruction positions and considers the arguments of major proponents of both stances, and includes:

  • an examination of the character of historical evidence
  • exploration of the role of historians
  • discussion of the failure of traditional historical methods
  • chapters on Hayden White and Michel Foucault
  • an evaluation of the importance of historical narrative
  • an up to date, comprehensive bibliography
  • an extensive and helpful glossary of difficult key terms.

Deconstructing History maps the philosophical field, outlines the controversies involved and assesses the merits of the deconstructionist position. He argues that instead of beginning with the past history begin with its representation by historians.

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About the author

Alun Munslow is principal lecturer in History, University of Staffordshire and editor of Rethinking History.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Apr 18, 2006
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Pages
232
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ISBN
9781134165650
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Historiography
History / Study & Teaching
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This content is DRM protected.
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Liberating Histories makes an original, scholarly contribution to contemporary debates surrounding the cultural and political relevance of historical practices. Arguing against the idea that specifically historical readings of the past are necessary or are compelled by the force of past events themselves, this book instead focuses on other forms of past-talk and how they function in politically empowering ways against social injustices.

Challenging the authority and constraints of academic history over the past, this book explores various forms of past-talk, including art, films, activism, memory, nostalgia and archives. Across seven clear chapters, Claire Norton and Mark Donnelly show how activists and campaigners have used forms of past-talk to unsettle ‘common sense’ thinking about political and social problems, how journalists, artists, curators, filmmakers and performers have referenced the past in their practices of advocacy, and how grassroots archivists help to circulate materials that challenge the power of authorised institutional archives to determine what gets to count as a demonstrable feature of the past and whose voices are part of the ‘historical record’.

Written in a lucid, accessible manner, and combining insightful critical analysis and philosophical argument with clear consideration of how different forms of past-talk influence the narration of pasts in a variety of socio-political contexts, Liberating Histories is essential reading for students and scholars with an interest in historiography and the ethical and political dimensions of the historical discipline.

Since its initial publication in 1973, Hayden White’s Metahistory has remained an essential book for understanding the nature of historical writing. In this classic work, White argues that a deep structural content lies beyond the surface level of historical texts. This latent poetic and linguistic content—which White dubs the "metahistorical element"—essentially serves as a paradigm for what an "appropriate" historical explanation should be.

To support his thesis, White analyzes the complex writing styles of historians like Michelet, Ranke, Tocqueville, and Burckhardt, and philosophers of history such as Marx, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Croce. The first work in the history of historiography to concentrate on historical writing as writing, Metahistory sets out to deprive history of its status as a bedrock of factual truth, to redeem narrative as the substance of historicality, and to identify the extent to which any distinction between history and ideology on the basis of the presumed scientificity of the former is spurious.

This fortieth-anniversary edition includes a new preface in which White explains his motivation for writing Metahistory and discusses how reactions to the book informed his later writing. In a new foreword, Michael S. Roth, a former student of White’s and the current president of Wesleyan University, reflects on the significance of the book across a broad range of fields, including history, literary theory, and philosophy. This book will be of interest to anyone—in any discipline—who takes the past as a serious object of study.

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