Psychology Press, 2002 - History - 228 pages
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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The contested nature of historical knowledge
Historical paradigms and theoretical traditions
Investigations Routes from the present to the past
Beyond metanarrative plots puzzles and plausibility
Labelling the parts categories and concepts
Looking for clues the question of evidence
Satisfying curiosity structure agency and underlying assumptions
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analysis argue argument Arthur Marwick aspects assumptions Cambridge century chapter Christopher Hill collective competing concepts conceptual framework constructed contemporary context controversy critique cultural debates discussion E. P. Thompson early modern emphasis empirical empiricist emplotment essentially evidence example explanation explanatory explicit explicitly explore facts focus French Revolution gender Geoffrey Elton German Hayden White historical accounts historical investigation historical knowledge historical writing Hitler Holocaust human Ian Kershaw important inquiry interests interpretation issues Keith Jenkins language least literary London look Marxist Max Weber means metanarrative motives narrative nature of history Nazi notion paradigms paradigms proper particular past perspectival paradigms perspectives political possible post-structuralism postmodernism postmodernist practice practising historians present problem questions reality relations role seek selected sense Simon Schama simply social sources specific story structural substantive texts Theda Skocpol theoretical approaches theory tion traditions truth underlying University Press Weber wider witchcraft