Re-Figuring Hayden White

Re-Figuring Hayden White

Re-Figuring Hayden White

Re-Figuring Hayden White

Synopsis

Produced in honor of White's eightieth birthday, Re-Figuring Hayden White testifies to the lasting importance of White's innovative work, which firmly reintegrates historical studies with literature and the humanities. The book is a major reconsideration of the historian's contributions and influence by an international group of leading scholars from a variety of disciplines. Individual essays address the key concepts of White's intellectual career, including tropes, narrative, figuralism, and the historical sublime while exploring the place of White's work in the philosophy of history, postmodernism, and ethics. They also discuss his role as historian and teacher and apply his ideas to specific historical events.

Excerpt

Hans Kellner

This volume celebrates the eightieth birthday of Hayden White. The contributors are White’s students, colleagues, friends; all of us have been instructed by his work. We continue to be inspired by his presence. Ewa Domańska and Frank Ankersmit conceived this project, and they did most of the work of organizing it. I am pleased to be the third editor, although by participating in this project, I am breaking a promise. A number of years ago, at an event in honor of a senior scholar, Hayden White looked at me and muttered, “Don’t you ever do anything like this for me,” and I agreed. Perhaps this order followed logically from the wisdom found in another piece of advice he once gave me: “Never expect gratitude.” White has always seemed to live above the economy of tributes. There are, however, some things that cannot not be done. This volume of tribute and interrogation is one of those things.

In September 1966 I walked into White’s office in Rush Rhees Library of the University of Rochester, a room large enough to hold a seminar table and a large blackboard as well as his desk and chair. This graduate seminar in European intellectual history was on the decade of the 1830s. The professor, not yet 40, was elegantly dressed; he had recently stepped down as chair of the department, but was still a dominant (and, even then, controversial) figure. The academia of forty years ago was rather different from that of today. The History Department at Rochester, for example, had no women on the faculty. Intellectual history was at the cutting edge; its young faculty expositors seemed radically critical of their . . .

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