Historical Theory

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Psychology Press, 2002 - History - 228 pages
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Writing history involves selection, imagination, creativity. What then is left of notions of objectivity? Is history really nothing but fiction masquerading as fact? Practising historians claim that their accounts of the past are something other than fiction, myth or propaganda. Yet there are significant challenges to this view. Different theoretical approaches provide competing explanations and interpretations; historical controversies are often closely connected with political commitments; and postmodernists have queried whether there is indeed any means of accessing and recounting the past 'as it really was'. Written by a prominent historian, Historical Theory develops a highly Original argument in the context of recent debates. Against naive empiricism, Mary Fulbrook argues that all historians face key theoretical questions, and that an emphasis on the facts alone is not enough. Against postmodernism, she argues that historical narratives are not simply inventions imposed on the past, and that some answers to historical questions are more plausible or adequate than others.; Focusing on central theoretical issues and strategies for bridging the gap between the traces of the past and the interpretations of the present, and deploying a range of substantive examples to illustrate the argument, Historical Theory provides an essential guide to and through major debates about the nature of history and representations of the past.
 

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Contents

Introduction
3
The contested nature of historical knowledge
12
Historical paradigms and theoretical traditions
31
Investigations Routes from the present to the past
51
Beyond metanarrative plots puzzles and plausibility
53
Labelling the parts categories and concepts
74
Looking for clues the question of evidence
98
Satisfying curiosity structure agency and underlying assumptions
122
Representations The past in the present
141
Representing the past
143
History and partisanship
164
Conclusion partial histories
185
Notes
197
Select bibliography
216
Index
221
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