The editors introduce the core areas of current debate within historical theory, bringing the reader as up to date with continuing debates and current developments as is possible. The book is divided into three parts, covering: • Part I. Foundations: The Theoretical Grounds for Knowledge of the Past • Part II. Applications: Theory-Intensive Areas in History • Part III. Coda. Post-Postmodernism: Directions and Interrogations This important handbook brings together in one volume discussions of the role of modernity, empiricism, realism, post-modernity and deconstruction in the historian's craft. Chapters are written by leading writers from around the world and cover a wide spread of historical sub-disciplines, such as social history, intellectual history, narrative, gender, memory, psycho-analysis and cultural studies, taking in, along the way, the work of thinkers such as Paul Ricouer, Michel Foucault and Hayden White. The Sage Handbook of Historical Theory is an essential resource for practicing historians, and students of history, and will appeal to scholars in related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities who seek a closer understanding of the theoretical foundations of history.

The Work of Hayden White II: Defamiliarizing Narrative

Kalle Pihlainen

For Hayden White, historians are (in most ways at least) just like everyone else. Thus, while their methodological and professional practices sometimes lend them the appearance of detached investigators, they too can be seen as intent on finding (human) meaning, on creating stories that might answer fundamental questions of the type we all face in our everyday lives, questions involving what White calls ‘the great themes of human existence: heroism, love, death, violence, compassion, and so on’ (Domanska 2008, 13). So, while hard-core reconstructionist historians as well as those with merely an antiquarian interest in the past may deny involvement in such speculation, their reliance on narrative undermines any professed ...

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