The Purposes of History? Curriculum Studies, Invisible Objects and Twenty-First Century Societies

By Baker, Bernadette | JCT (Online), January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Purposes of History? Curriculum Studies, Invisible Objects and Twenty-First Century Societies


Baker, Bernadette, JCT (Online)


IN DECONSTRUCTING HISTORY, Alun Munslow (2006, p. 1) articulates what is now commonplace, that "It is generally recognised that written history is contemporary or present orientated to the extent that we historians not only occupy a platform in the here-and-now, but also hold positions on how we see the relationship between the past and its traces, and the manner in which we extract meaning from them. There are many reasons, then, for believing we live in a new intellectual epoch - a so-called postmodern age - and why we must rethink the nature of the historical enterprise to meet the needs of our changed intellectual beliefs and circumstances." Munslow goes on to posit that contemporary doubts about the nature of history, especially in terms of accuracy of representation and realism, are both part of history's awkward relation with social sciences and an extension of modernity's self-reflexivity:

One of the main points about the Age of Enlightenment modernism from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was its self-consciousness in asking questions about how we know what we know. In a peculiar sense, perhaps modernism was always going to end up fundamentally critiquing itself. Maybe postmodernism was the inevitable consequence of modernism?...it is important from the start to recognise that history was always going to be in the forefront of this modernist will to self-criticism. It is as a result of this postmodern condition for knowing that history, as a discipline, has always been particularly susceptible to debates about its nature (Munslow, 2006, p. 2).

Munslow's observations regarding a new intellectual epoch and the necessity of new enterprises to suit changed beliefs and circumstances captures a widespread sentiment in formal historiography and at the same time reduces the sentiment to the question of how knowledge is gained and represented in narrative form. Over the last century, studies of curriculum in Anglophone-dominant sites of production have been similarly and significantly dedicated to the question of knowledge and the different value-systems that generate different knowledges. Such studies have helped move the conceptual lens away from claims to objectivity, neutrality, and some universalisms. They have less frequently, however, moved beyond planetary geopolitically-based thinking, a place-knowledge reduction, or questioned how epistemological debates have been tied to human-centric imperatives in ways that "protect and isolate their primary categories from external accountability" (Carrette, 2007, p. viii).

This paper attempts one such disruption by subjecting some primary categories to an interrogation that disallows their historico-philosophical protection and isolation. Taking Munslow's insights regarding the importance of 19th century debates as significant, as well as the tension between social science and historiography, the paper moves through several layers that highlight the lack of settlement regarding the endowment of objects for study with the status of the scientific. It ultimately examines the impact upon curriculum history's lines of sight and foci of the positing and retracting of doubt in regard to objects' legitimacy. It traces relations within and between less-visited texts on education to unpack the possibilities and limits for object-formation, and considers the implication of uneven and relatively different logics formed through the social sciences and education-related fields on the conceptualization of reality and what it means to conduct an analysis. Whether the nature of history and conceptions of knowledge are, or ought to be, central considerations in curriculum studies and reducible to purposes or elevated as "present orientated," thus operates as a less effective incitement to discourse than disrupting the protection and isolation of primary categories whose troubling is overdue but not without precedent - hence the question mark in the title and the redirection that follows. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Purposes of History? Curriculum Studies, Invisible Objects and Twenty-First Century Societies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.