Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse

Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse

by Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.
Pub. Date:
Harvard University Press

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Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse

What legitimate form can history take when faced by the severe challenges issued in recent years by literary, rhetorical, multiculturalist, and feminist theories? That is the question considered in this long-awaited and pathbreaking book. Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., addresses the essential practical concern of contemporary historians; he offers a way actually to go about reading and writing histories in light of the many contesting theories.

Berkhofer ranges through a vast archive of recent writings by a broad range of authors. He explicates the opposing paradigms and their corresponding dilemmas by presenting in dialogue form the positions of modernists and postmodernists, formalists and deconstructionists, textualists and contextualists. Poststructuralism, the New Historicism, the New Anthropology, the New Philosophy of History—these and many other approaches are illuminated in new ways in these comprehensive, interdisciplinary explorations.

From them, Berkhofer arrives at a clear vision of the forms historical discourse might take, advocates a new approach to historical criticism, and proposes new forms of historical representation that encompass multiculturalism, poetics, and reflexive (con)textualization. He elegantly blends traditional and new methodology; assesses what the "revival of the narrative" actually entails; considers the politics of disciplinary frameworks; and derives coherent new approaches to writing, teaching, reviewing, and reading histories.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674069077
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 09/28/1995
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents


The Postmodernist Challenge

Interdisciplinary Challenges

Debating the Implications

A Problematic Defense

Texts and Contexts

Clio at the Crossroads

Narratives and Historicization

The Paradigm of Normal History

Contextualism as a Methodology

The Multiple Roles of Narrativization

Great Stories and the Search for a Larger Context

Historical Representations and Truthfulness

Interpretations and Historical Realism

The Fallacy of a Single Right or Best Interpretation

The Insufficiency of Facts

Representation and Referentiality as Interpretive Structures

The Role of Meta-Understanding

History versus Fiction

Contrasting Views of History as a Text

Interpretation, Metahistory, and Truthfulness

The New Rhetoric, Poetics, and Criticism

Toward Historical Criticism

A Formal Taxonomy of Textual Analysis

Beyond Style

The New Rhetoric of History

A New Poetics of Historical Criticism

Emplotment: Historicizing Time

The Time of Normal History

Textual or Discourse Time versus Chronological Time

History versus Chronology: The Problem of Patterning

The Nature and Uses of Emplotment

Beginnings, Middles, and Endings

Emplotment as Meaning and Lesson

Toward a Poetics of Emplotment

Narrativity and the Great Past

Partiality as Voice and Viewpoint

The Problems of Partiality

The Historian in the Text

Voice and Viewpoint

Representing Multiple Viewpoints and Voices

New Viewpoints on History

Changing the Representation of Otherness

The Question of Representativeness

Multiculturalism and Normal History

The Reorientation of Anthropology

Toward a Dialogic Ideal

Politics and Paradigms

The Politics of Historical Practice

The Politics of Viewpoint

Foundations of Authority

The Politics of Paradigms

The Politics of the Medium versus the Message

Reflexive (Con)Textualization

A Basic Guide

Theories, Models, Images

Toward New Historicizations

Transforming Historical Practice




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