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Historiography

    '''Historiography''' is writing ''about'' rather than ''of'' history Historiography is meta-analysis of descriptions of the past The analysis usually focuses on the narrative interpretations worldview use of evidence or method of presentation of other historians

    Historians' definition of historiography

    Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris define "historiography" as "the study of the way history has been and is written--the history of historical writing When you study 'historiography' you do not study the events of the past directly but the changing interpretations of those events in the works of individual historians" (The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide 1988 p. 223)

    An example

    A primary source is an artifact of a particular point in time In the 1850s for example many slave owners in the United States kept diaries and journals about their day to day activity The historian Kenneth Stampp looked at these documents for information about the life of a slave owner in the 1850s and also derived information from them on the life of the slaves on the plantation; he used the documents as primary sources The book he created The Peculiar : Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South is a secondary source: a work produced through the analysis of primary sources If another historian argues that Stampp's history ignores the economic history of slavery or that Stampp's work overly emphasizes one aspect of slave life then this other historian is using Stampp's book -- originally produced as a secondary source -- as a primary source an artifact of study This new work which criticizes a secondary source is a work of historiography
    Much critical historiography in the 1960s focused for example on the exclusion of the roles of women minorities and labor from written histories of the USA According to these historiographers because historians in the 1930s and 1940s were themselves products of their times their models of who was "important" to history reflected the cultural attitudes of that period ie a bias towards well-connected white males Many historians from that point onward devoted themselves to what they saw as more accurate representations of the past casting a light on those who had been previously disregarded as non-noteworthy
    The study of historiography demands a critical approach that goes beyond the mere examination of historical fact Historiographical studies consider the source often by researching the author his or her position in society and the type of history being written at the time Historiography that is considered controversial or extreme is often pejoratively labeled as historical revisionism

    Basic issues studied in historiography

    Some of the basic questions considered in historiography are:
    • Who wrote the source (primary or secondary)?
    • For primary sources we look at the person in his or her society for secondary sources we consider the theoretical orientation of the approach for example Marxist or Annales School ("total history") political history etc
    • What is the authenticity authority bias/interest and intelligibility of the source?
    • What was the view of history when the source was written?
    • Was history supposed to provide moral lessons?
    • What or who was the intended audience?
    • What sources were privileged or ignored in the narrative?
    • By what method was the evidence compiled?
    • In what historical context was the work of history itself written?

    Some recent controversies

    Some recent historiographical controversies include periodization of European history rate of exploitation of African-Americans during and after slavery the role of whiteness in US labor struggles and the attitude of "good Germans" to the Holocaust

    Approaches to history


    Literature

    Broad histories of historical writing:
    • Michael Bentley (ed) Companion to Historiography Routledge 1997 ISBN 0415285577
    • Michael Bentley Modern : An Introduction 1999 ISBN 0415202671
    • Ernst Breisach Historiography: Ancient Medieval and Modern 1994 ISBN 0226072789
    • Mark T. Gilderhus History and Historiographical Introduction 2002 ISBN 0130448249
    • Susan Kinnell Historiography: An Annotated Bibliography of Journal Article Books and Dissertations 1987 ISBN 0874361680
    • Arnaldo Momigliano The Classical Foundation of Modern Historiography 1990 ISBN 0520078705

    Philosophy of history:
    • RG Collingwood The Idea of History 1936 ISBN 0192853066
    • E H. Carr What is History? 1961 ISBN 039470391X
    • Geoffrey Elton The Practice of History 1969 ISBN 0631229809
    • Hayden White The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 1987 ISBN 0801841151
    • Frank Ankersmit (ed) A New Philosophy of History 1995 ISBN 0226021009
    • Richard J. Evans In Defence of History 1997 ISBN 3579108642

    Regional or thematic:
    • Marc Ferro Cinema and History Wayne State University Press 1988
    • Ranajit Guha Dominance Without : History and Power in Colonial India Harvard UP 1998
    • Keith Jenkins Rethinking History 1991 Postmodernism treatment of history
    • Gerda Lerner The Majority Finds its Past: Placing Women in History New : Oxford University Press 1979
    • Roland Oliver In the Realms of : Pioneering in African History University of Wisconsin Press 1997
    • Peter Novick The Noble : The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession 1988
    • Christopher Saunders The making of the South African past : major historians on race and class Totowa NJ : Barnes & Noble 1988
    • Bonnie G. Smith The Gender of History: Men Women and Historical Practice Harvard UP 2000

    Teaching History
    • James W. Loewen Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong Touchstone Books 1996

    Journals

    See also


    External links