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.
Chapter 28: Recovering the Self: Agency after Deconstruction
Recovering the Self: Agency after Deconstruction
The question of historical agency grows from the factual quartet that in the past people wanted, willed, tried and suffered. Agency occurs whenever a person generates some event or idea, a word or deed, possibly something unique, and pushes on because of it. In small acts of going to work, caring for friends, marching, or riding to meet your Waterloo, people do; and the springs and significance of their doing are the core of what historians should care about. At the base, such action is akin to animals, say the horses pulling carts and cannons or carrying men at Waterloo. But human agency is at its most interesting when it reaches ...