Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline

Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline

Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline

Making History: An Introduction to the History and Practices of a Discipline

Synopsis

Making History offers a fresh perspective on the study of the past. It is an exhaustive exploration of the practice of history, historical traditions and the theories that surround them. Discussing the development and growth of history as a discipline and of the profession of the historian, the book encompasses a huge diversity of influences, and is organized around the following themes:* the professionalisation of the discipline, looking at methodology, 'scientific' history and the problem of objectivity* the most significant movements in historical scholarship in the last century, including the Annales School, and the development of social and economic history* the increasing interdisciplinary trends in scholarship, showing interconnections between history, archaeology, psychoanalysis, sociology, anthropology, and literature. Scholars from non-historical disciplines have contributed to provide a unique approach to a controversial debate* theory in historical practice, looking at the social movements and ideologies that propelled its increased importance, including Marxism, post-modernism and gender history* historical practice outside the academy with reference to film, 'amateur' history, heritage and popular culture.The volume offers a coherent set of chapters to support undergraduates, postgraduates and others interested in the historical process that have shaped the discipline of history.

Excerpt

Peter Lambert and Phillipp Schofield

This book is about how, when and why particular approaches to making history have emerged, established themselves, changed and even collapsed. Our focus is on the 'history' produced as an academic discipline, that is, very largely in university history departments. We first explore the beginnings of professional, academic historical research and writing in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. A good deal of what we describe there will be perfectly recognisable to an undergraduate history student or to any reader of academic history books. Ways of teaching historians, through seminars and workshops dedicated to dissecting documents, which continue to occupy a pivotal position in the delivery of history degree schemes today, had evolved in the era of professionalisation. Results of these training regimes showed through in books displaying a rigorous use of primary sources. But much else that was characteristic of the nascent profession will seem alien. Above all, it will seem narrow - in its social composition and its work. Elitism and nationalism were definitive of both.

The bulk of the volume concerns subsequent developments within academic history, tracing the intellectual fashions and movements through which academic history acquired new identities. Historians drew eclectically on the questions, methods and sensibilities of other academic disciplines. They forged sub-disciplines, like economic and social history. Many tried to show what theory could offer history. Sometimes, self-consciously 'progressive' historians bunched themselves into schools. Even where links were looser than that, historians could share distinctive perspectives. Some sought (and still seek) to interpret the past 'from below' or in ways informed by feminism; others, to comprehend a past culture in its totality.

We do not just document and try to explain these innovations and shifts. We also draw on them. That is, we use a broad range of tried and tested historical methods, perspectives and approaches to understanding causes. Studying the history of historiography (i.e. the history of historical writing) and of other stages in the process of making history, or other ways of making history, demands no special skills. Rather, the challenge is to see how far historians can get in understanding the history of their own discipline by using the skills and methods that discipline has supplied and which they would apply to any

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