The SAGE Handbook of Historical Theory


Edited by: Nancy Partner & Sarah Foot

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: Foundations: Theoretical Frameworks for Knowledge of the Past

    Part II: Applications: Theory-Intensive Areas of History

    Part III: Coda. Post-postmodernism: Directions and Interrogations

  • Editorial Board

    The editors have assembled a large and outstanding group of historians and other theorists who examine and represent theories of historical knowledge from every angle. The collection is comprehensive, scholarly, and full of new insights.

    David Carr, Professor Emeritus, Emory University, USA

    The challenges of the use of theory in history is analysed and interrogated in significant and exciting ways in this work. In drawing on the insights of leading scholars, this indispensable volume broadens the parameters of our investigation of the past and deepens our interpretation and understanding of historical knowledge.

    Joy Damousi, Professor of History, University of Melbourne, Australia

    Nancy Partner and Sarah Foot have brought together a comprehensive and up-to-date collection of essays on historical theory. The special feature is that more than half the contributions are written by working historians with their feet on the ground. The book will be invaluable both to students of historiography and seasoned practitioners.

    John Tosh, Professor of History, University of Roehampton, UK

    This is an important overview and critical analysis of the present state of history writing. Starting with history's modernist foundations in the 19th century, the Handbook succinctly explains how the rise of postmodernism has brought about our present-day post-postmodernist predicament with its broad variety of historical genres.

    Chris Lorenz, Professor of German Historical Culture and Historical Theory, VU University Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College, The Netherlands


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    List of contributors

    Frank Ankersmit was Professor for Intellectual History and Philosophy of History at Groningen University from 1992 until his retirement in 2010. He has published some 15 books and more than 200 articles in the fields of philosophy of history, political philosophy and aesthetics. His next book, entitled Meaning, Truth and Reference in Historical Representation, will be published in Spring 2012. His writings have been translated into many languages. He is founder and chief editor of the Journal of the Philosophy of History and has an honorary degree in the humanities of the University of Ghent.

    Michael Bentley is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews. His major research interests are in the political and intellectual history of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and in the philosophy of history, and historiography. His publications include The Liberal Mind, 1914–1929 (1977); Politics without Democracy, 1815–1914 (1984, 1996); The Climax of Liberal Politics (1987); A Companion to Historiography (1997); Modern Historiography (1999); Lord Salisbury's World (2001); and The Life and Thought of Herbert Butterfeld: History, Science and God (2011). He is currently writing a comparative analysis of Western historiography since the Enlightenment.

    Ann Curthoys is Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at the University of Sydney, and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Her research is in Australian history, as well as history and theory, and historical writing. Major publications include Freedom Ride: A Freedomrider Remembers (2002); How to Write History that People Want to Read (2009), with Ann McGrath; Rights and Redemption: History; Law, and Indigenous People, with Ann Genovese and Alexander Reilly (2008); and Is History Fiction?, with John Docker (2005, rev. edn 2010). She is currently working on a project titled: ‘The British Empire, Indigenous Peoples, and Self-government for the Australian Colonies’.

    John Docker is Honorary Professor in the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney, where his research is in the field of intellectual and cultural history. His publications include The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide (2008); 1492: The Poetics of Diaspora (2001); Postmodernism and Popular Culture: A Cultural History (1994); and, with Ann Curthoys, Is History Fiction? (2005, rev. edn 2010). He is currently working on a book titled Sheer Folly and Derangement: Disorienting Europe and the West, as well as other projects.

    Robert Doran is James P. Wilmot Assistant Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Rochester (USA). His main areas of specialization are aesthetics, literary theory, continental philosophy, intellectual history and nineteenth-century French literature. He is the editor of the collected essays of Hayden White, The Fiction of Narrative: Essays on History, Literature and Theory, 1957–2007 (2010), and of the anthology, Philosophy of History after Hayden White (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). He is also the editor of Mimesis and Theory: Essays on Literature and Criticism 1953–2005 (2008), by René Girard. His monograph, The Theory of the Sublime from Longinus to Kant, is under review.

    Jan van der Dussen is Professor (emeritus) of Humanities at the Open University of The Netherlands. His publications include History as a Science: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (1981); with Lionel Rubinoff, editor of Objectivity, Method and Point of View: Essays in the Philosophy of History (1991); editor of the revised edition of R.G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (Oxford, 1993); with W.H. Dray editor of R.G. Collingwood: The Principles of History and Other Writings in Philosophy of History (1999); revised edition of History as a Science: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (2012).

    Sarah Foot is the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Christ Church, University of Oxford. Her research is on Anglo-Saxon monasteries, women and religion, the invention of the English, and in historiography and historical theory. Her publications include Veiled Women: The Disappearance of Nuns from Anglo-Saxon England (2 vols, 2000); Monastic Life in Anglo-Saxon England c. 600–900 (2006); Æthelstan: the First English Monarch (2011); ‘Plenty, portents and plague: Anglo-Saxon readings of the natural world’, in The Church and the Natural World, ed. Peter Clarke and Tony Claydon (2010); ‘Church and monastery in Bede's Northumbria’, in The Cambridge Companion to Bede, ed. Scott De Gregorio (2010). She is currently working on an edition of the Anglo-Saxon Charters of Bury St Edmunds Abbey for the British Academy.

    Kevin Foster is an Associate Professor in the School of English Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University where he teaches Media Studies. He has written widely on cultural history and national identity with a particular focus on war and conflict. His work has appeared in a range of international journals including Cultural Studies, Modern Fiction Studies, Third Text and The Journal of Popular Culture. He is the author of Fighting Fictions: War, Narrative and National Identity (1999) and Lost Worlds: Latin America and the Imagining of Empire (2009). He has also edited What are we doing in Afghanistan? The Military and the Media at War (2009) and The Information Battlefeld: Representing Australians at War (2011).

    Karen Harvey is Senior Lecturer in Cultural History at the University of Sheffield. She has published widely on gender, sexuality and material culture, with a particular interest in the history of masculinity. She uses a wide range of written, visual and material sources in her research, and is committed to interdisciplinarity. Her books include Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture (2004); and as editor, The Kiss in History (2005) and History and Material Culture, ed. (2009). Her most recent book is The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2012). This reconstructs men's experiences of the house, examining the authority that accrued to mundane and everyday household practices and employing men's own concepts to understand what men thought and felt about their domestic lives.

    Patrick H. Hutton is Professor of History (emeritus) at the University of Vermont, where he teaches in the Integrated Humanities Program. His books include: The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition (1981); History as an Art of Memory (1993); and Philippe Ariès and the Politics of French Cultural History (2004); as editor, A Historical Dictionary of the Third French Republic (1986); and as co-editor, Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (1988).

    Valerie Johnson is Head of Research at The National Archives. Prior to that, she worked as Research Officer on a history project based at the University of Cambridge History. She holds an MA with Distinction in Archive Administration, and was awarded the Alexander R Myers Memorial Prize for Archive Administration. She also has a PhD in History for her thesis, ‘British multinationals, culture and empire in the early twentieth century’ (2007), for which she won the 2008 Coleman Prize. She has worked as an archivist and a historian in the academic, corporate and public sectors.

    Judith Keilbach is Assistant Professor of Television History in the Media and Culture Studies Department of Utrecht University (Netherlands). Her research focuses include television history and theory, the relation of media technology and historiography, archives, aerial photography and animals. Her book on Geschichtsbilder und Zeitzeugen (historical images and witness) analyzes how German television documentaries represent the National Socialist past. She has published a number of English articles on that topic, amongst others in New German Critique and The Leo Baeck Yearbook. She is co-editor of Grundlagentexte zur Fernsehwissenschaft and Die Gegenwart der Vergangeheit and of the journal Montage AV.

    Donald R. Kelley is the James Westfall Thompson Professor (emeritus) of History at Rutgers University. His research interests are in the history of Western historiography, European Intellectual history, and the history of Law. Among his many publications are The Faces of History: Historical Inquiry from Herodotus to Herder (1998); The Descent of Ideas: The History of Intellectual History (2002); The Writing of History and the Study of Law (1997); as editor, Versions of History: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment (1990); History and the Disciplines: The Reclassifcation of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe (1997); and Fortunes of History: Historical Inquiry from Herder to Huizinga (in press).

    Hans Kellner is Professor of English at North Carolina State University, and a member of the Communications, Rhetoric, and Digital Media Program. He is the author of Language and Historical Representation: Getting the Story Crooked (1989). He is also co-editor of A New Philosophy of History (with F.R. Ankersmit) (1995) and Re-fguring Hayden White (with F.R. Ankersmit and E. Domanska) (2009). He is the author of many articles in historical theory, rhetorical theory, history of rhetoric and historiography.

    Brian Lewis is Associate Professor of History at McGill University. He is the author of The Middlemost and the Milltowns: Bourgeois Culture and Politics in Early Industrial England (2001); ‘So Clean’: Lord Leverhulme, Soap and Civilization (2008). He is guest editor of a special edition of the Journal of British Studies on queer history (July 2012), and editor of British Queer History: New Approaches and Perspectives (forthcoming). He is currently working on a book titled The First Queer Revolution: George Ives and Homosexuality in Britain from Wilde to Wolfenden.

    Clare O'Farrell is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Cultural and Language Studies in Education at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She studied philosophy in Paris in the early 1980s and attended Foucault's lectures. She has written two books on Foucault, Foucault: Historian or Philosopher? (1989) and Michel Foucault (2005), and has edited a large collection of essays on his work, Foucault the Legacy (1997). She was one of the founding editors of the journal Foucault Studies. She also runs a resource website on Foucault, (online since 1997) and a blog titled Foucault News.

    Nancy Partner is Professor of History at McGill University. Her research interests are medieval historical writing, applications of psychoanalysis for history, and historical theory with emphasis on narrative theory and epistemology. Her publications include the edited books, Studying Medieval Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism (1993), and Writing Medieval History (2005), to which she contributed ‘The hidden self: psychoanalysis and the textual unconscious’. Recent articles include: ‘The linguistic turn along post-postmodern borders: Israeli/Palestinian narrative conflict’ in New Literary History (2009); ‘Narrative persistence: the post-postmodern life of narrative theory’, in Refguring Hayden White, ed. by Frank Ankersmit, et al. (2009), and ‘Our history/your myths: narrative and national identity’, in Storia della Storiografa (2012). She is currently working on the topic of narrative construction and European identity.

    Kalle Pihlainen is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow based at the Department of Philosophy, Åbo Akademi University, as well as Adjunct Professor in Philosophy of History at the Department of Contemporary History, University of Turku, Finland. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Turku, where he also taught and worked at the Department of Cultural History. He has published articles on narrative theory and the philosophy of history in various anthologies and in journals including Clio, Historein, New Literary History, Rethinking History and Storia della Storiografa. His work to date has primarily focused on literary and performance theory, existentialism and poststructuralism, as well as the ethics of narrative representation particularly in relation to Hayden White and Jean-Paul Sartre. Ongoing research projects investigate the representational strategies employed by Sartre in ‘L'Idiot de la Famille’ as well as the question of embodiment in contemporary narrative theory.

    Lutz Raphael is Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Trier (Germany). One of his main fields of research has been the history of modern Historiography starting with a study on the French Annales School after the Second World War, Die Erben von Bloch und Febvre. Annales-Historiographie und nouvelle histoire in Frankreich 1945–1980 (1994), later extending his field of interest towards comparative studies like: ‘Flexible response? Strategies of academic historians towards larger markets for national historiographies and increasing scientific standards’, in KVHAA Konferenser, Vol. 49 (2000), 127–47; and ‘Experiments in modernization: social and economic history’. He has written a synthesis of international trends in twentieth-century historiography, Geschichtswissenschaft im Zeitalter der Extreme: Theorien, Methoden, Tendenzen von 1900 bis zur Gegenwart (2nd edn, 2010); and has edited (with Ilaria Porciani), Atlas of European Historiography: The Making of a Profession 1800–2005 (2009). His second field of research is the comparative history of European societies since 1900. Publications on this topic include (with Anselm Doering-Manteuffel), Nach dem Boom. Perspektiven auf die Zeitgeschichte seit 1970 (2nd edn, 2010); and Imperiale Gewalt und mobilisierte Nation. Europa 1914–1945 (2011). He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Modern European History.

    Amy Richlin is Professor of Classics at UCLA. She has published widely on the history of sexuality, on Latin literature, and on Roman women's history; her books include The Garden of Priapus (1983, rev. edn 1992); Rome and the Mysterious Orient: Three Plays by Plautus (2005); and Marcus Aurelius in Love (2006). She has edited Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome (1992) and co-edited Feminist Theory and the Classics (1993). She is revising a book on epistolarity, the end of the ancient sex/gender system, and the circulation of knowledge about that system in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the working title How Fronto's Letters Got Lost: Reading Roman Pederasty in Modern Europe. A book of her collected essays on Roman women's history is forthcoming from University of Michigan Press. Other current interests include Roman comedy as slave theatre and the teaching of classical literature to Native Americans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

    Ann Rigney is Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht University where she also directs the university research area Cultures & Identities. She was elected a member of the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. She has written widely in the field of narrative theory and memory cultures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and directed the research project The Dynamics of Cultural Remembrance (2006–2010) funded by the Dutch Research council. Her many publications include The Rhetoric of Historical Representation (1990); Imperfect Histories (2001); and as co-editor (with Astrid Erll), Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory (2009). A new book, The Afterlives of Walter Scott: Memory on the Move, examines the social life of Scott's work over a period of two centuries (2012). See further

    Gilbert B. Rodman is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. His research and teaching focuses on cultural studies, media studies, popular culture, media technologies, intellectual property, and the politics of race and ethnicity. He is the author of Elvis After Elvis: The Posthumous Career of a Living Legend (1996) and Why Cultural Studies? (forthcoming); one of the co-editors of Race in Cyberspace (2000); and the editor of The Race and Media Reader (forthcoming). He is currently working on a book about Stuart Hall. He is the founder and manager of CULTSTUD-L (the largest and longest-running international listserv devoted to cultural studies); sits on the editorial boards of the journals Cultural Studies, Communication and Critical Cultural Studies and the European Journal of Cultural Studies; and serves as the Chair of the Association for Cultural Studies.

    Michael Roper is a social and cultural historian of twentieth-century Britain, based in the Sociology Department at the University of Essex. His most recent book is The Secret Battle: Emotional Survival in the Great War (2009) and he has published numerous articles on personal sources and the use of psychoanalysis in historical research on subjectivity. He has a particular interest in the Kleinian psychoanalyst and First World War veteran Wilfred Bion, and is currently working on a history of ‘the generation between’ in Britain, which explores the psychological impact of the First World War on the children born between the wars.

    David Gary Shaw is the Dean of the Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Programs and Professor of History at Wesleyan University. He teaches medieval history, British history until 1700, as well as historiography and the theory of history. His research first focused on urban communities in medieval England and then the nature of the social self, a subject that has drawn him far from his medieval beginnings. At present, he is researching a book on the circulation of people (and their sentient side-kicks), information and ideas in later medieval England. He is also continuing to examine the shifting nature of historical agency among people, animals, and other possible actors. He is an associate editor of History and Theory. While at the journal he edited special issues on Religion, Agency and Evolutionary Theory. He is currently working on another themed issue about animals and history, which should be published in 2013. His publications include The Creation of a Community: The City of Wells in the Middle Ages (1993); The Return of Science: Evolution, History, and Theory, edited with Philip Pomper (2002); and Necessary Conjunctions: The Social Self in Medieval England (2005).

    Bonnie G. Smith is Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers University, where her research interests focus on women's history in a global perspective. Among her many publications are: Ladies of the Leisure Class: The Bourgeoises of Northern France in the Nineteenth Century (1981); Changing Lives: Women in European History since 1700 (1989); The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice (1998); Global Feminisms since 1945, edited (2000); Women's and Gender History in Global Perspective (2003–4); and the Encyclopedia of Women in World History (2008).

    Robert M. Stein is Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Purchase College, SUNY, and Adjunct Senior Research Scholar in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has written on contemporary critical theory, including articles on Walter Benjamin and Erich Auerbach, as well as on medieval historiography and romance. His recent publications include Reading Medieval Culture, a festschrift for Robert Hanning, which he edited with Sandra Pierson Prior (2005), and Reality Fictions: Romance, History, and Governmental Authority, 1025–1180 (2006). He is currently at work on an English translation, with introduction and commentary, of La Vie de St Edmond le Rei and the Anglo-Norman Pseudo-Turpin Chronicle for the French of England Project.

    Joseph Tendler completed his doctorate at the University of St Andrews. His research and teaching interests centre on the historiography and intellectual history of the Atlantic world, as well as historical theory, broadly conceived. A first monograph, Against the Tide: Opponents of the Annales School in Comparative Perspective, 1900–1970, will challenge previous depictions of the Annales School of historians by examining their methodologies from the point of view of their opponents across Western Europe and the United States of America. He has also contributed book chapters on the French historian Jacques Droz and Annales historians’ contested transformations of the practice of local history writing. Recent articles include a study of the forefathers of contemporary trends in historical interpretations of the French Revolution, an exposition of the political consensus advanced by constitutional historians in Europe during the first Cold War and the now-forgotten significance of the Nebraska School of historians in establishing in communication with European scholars the practice of professional history in America around 1900. His post-doctoral project is on the international impact of Benedetto Croce's historical writing. He also reviews work on the history of historiography for German History.

    David Thomas is Director of Technology at the National Archives, a post he has held since 2005. Prior to that he held a variety of posts at the National Archives and has led their IT operations since 1995. He is currently working on the development of new systems to capture, preserve and make available digital and digitised records. He holds a PhD in History for his thesis on the crown lands under Elizabeth I. Until recently he served on the Council of the Royal Historical Society.

    Benjamin Zachariah read history at Presidency College, Calcutta, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is currently Professor of History at Presidency University, Calcutta. His research interests centre on the intellectual history of modern South Asia, on historiography and historical theory, and on the global movement of ideas. He is the author of a biography of the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru (2004); Developing India: an Intellectual and Social History, c. 1930–1950 (2005); and Playing the Nation Game: the Ambiguities of Nationalism in India (2011). He is currently working on international networks of fascists and India.

    John H. Zammito is John Antony Weir Professor of History at Rice University. His research focuses on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and of his student and rival, Johann Gottfried Herder, as well as on the history and philosophy of science both as a methodology and with specific reference to developments in the eighteenth century. He has also written extensively on the philosophy of history. His current research involves the germination of biology as a special science in Germany in the eighteenth century. His key publications are The Genesis of Kant's Critique of Judgment (1992); Kant, Herder, and the Birth of Anthropology (2002); and A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-Positivism in the Study of Science from Quine to Latour (2004); plus numerous articles in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science and in History and Theory.

    Judith P. Zinsser, Professor emerita of History at Miami University (Ohio), wrote Emilie Du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment (2006). Her articles on the marquise have appeared in journals in the USA and Europe. Most recently she collaborated on a translation of Du Châtelet's writings for the series, ‘The Other Voice of Early Modern Europe’ (2009). Zinsser has written articles on the relationship between feminism and biography, on gender and world history, and in A Glass Half Full (1994) on the impact of feminism on the practice of history and the workings of the historical profession. She is co-author of the two-volume classic, A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present (1999).

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