Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline

Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline

Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline

Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline

Synopsis

In this engaging sequel to Rethinking History , Keith Jenkins argues for a re-figuration of historical study. At the core of his survey lies the realization that objective and disinterested histories as well as historical 'truth' are unachievable. The past and questions about the nature of history remain interminably open to new and disobedient approaches.Jenkins reassesses conventional history in a bold fashion. His committed and radical study presents new ways of 'thinking history', a new methodology and philosophy and their impact on historical practice.This volume is written for students and teachers of history, illuminating and changing the core of their discipline.

Excerpt

Critical theory of history tries to change the rules of writing history or even to ask if any game of writing about history is worth it. That is a harsh thing to say, but the…theorists discussed below were in agreement that after 2,500 years of misrepresentation by historians, by the sheer hit and miss of historical representation, by the transformation of after the factness into a resource for control of the future, that it was time to consider not playing that game. Not historical, that's the path of barbarism, isn't it?

(Sande Cohen, French Theory in America)

Since 1991 Routledge have published four books in which I have tried to address the question of 'the nature of history today': Rethinking History (1991), On 'What is History'? From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (1995), The Postmodern History Reader (1997) and Why History? Ethics and Postmodernity (1999). In the first three of these works I promoted what I called a postmodern approach towards historicising the past on the basis that it was the best available in our current cultural condition, whilst in the fourth I took the discussion somewhat further. In Why History? I argued that whilst it may well be the case that postmodern approaches still offer the best way to both read and write histories, in the rich acts of the imagination provided by theorists who are not historians (for example Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard, Judith Butler, Alain Badiou, Elizabeth Ermarth et al.) and who in that sense do not much need history, we now have enough intellectual power to begin to work for

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