Historiography

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Historiography is about the writing of history and the use of historical methods. Thus it looks at authors, sources, interpretation, style, bias, and audience. The word historiography can also refer to a body of historical work.

The history of written history[change | change source]

For thousands of years people have been telling stories about the past, and making written records of the actions of kings and prophets and other famous persons. After 500 BC, they began writing more organized histories.

Hellenic world[change | change source]

Reproduction of part of a Tenth-century copy of Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War

Written history appeared first with the ancient Greeks, whose historians greatly contributed to the development of historical methodology. The very first historical works were The Histories composed by Herodotus of Halicarnassus (484 BC–ca.425 BC), who became later known as the 'father of history' (Cicero). Thucydides was the first to distinguish between cause and immediate origins of an event, and his successor Xenophon (ca. 431–355 BC) introduced autobiographical elements and character studies in his Anabasis.

Roman world[change | change source]

The Romans adopted the Greek tradition, becoming the first people to write history in a non-Greek language. The most famous writers are Julius Caesar's (100 BC–44 BC) Bellum Gallicum. Livy (59 BC–AD 17) who records the rise of Rome from city-state to world dominion.[1] Plutarch (c. 46 - 127) and Suetonius (c. 69-after 130) introduced biography as a branch of history. Tacitus (c. 56–c. 117) criticizes Roman immorality by praising German virtues.

Medieval Europe[change | change source]

A page of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Writing history was popular among Christian monks and clergy in the Middle Ages. They wrote about the history of Jesus Christ, the Church and of their patrons, the dynastic history of the local rulers. In the Early Middles Ages historical writing often took the form of annals or chronicles recording events year by year but this style tended to hampered the analysis of events and causes.[2] An example of this type of writing are Anglo-Saxon Chronicles which were the work of several different writers and start during the reign of Alfred the Great in the late 9th century and one copy of which was still being updated in 1154.

History was written about states or nations during the Renaissance. The study of history changed during the Enlightenment and Romanticism. Voltaire described the history of certain ages that were important according to him, instead of describing events in a chronological order. History became an independent discipline. It was not called philosophia historiae anymore, but merely history (historia).

Modern era[change | change source]

Modern historiography began with Leopold Ranke in the 19th century, who was very critical on the sources used in history. The French Annales School radically changed history during the 20th century. Fernand Braudel wanted history to become more scientific by demanding more mathematical evidence in history, in order to make the history discipline less subjective. Furthermore, he added a social-economic and geographic framework to answer historical questions. Other French historians, like Philippe Ariès and Michel Foucault described history of daily life topics such as death and sexuality. They wanted history to be written about all topics and that all questions should be asked.

Foundation of historical journals[change | change source]

The idea of the historical journal, a forum where academic historians could exchange ideas, came into being in the nineteenth century. The early journals were similar to those used in the physical sciences, and were seen as a means by which history could be professionalised. Journals also helped historians to establish various historiographical approaches, the most notable example of which was Annales. Économies. Sociétés. Civilisations. a publication instrumental in establishing the Annales School.

Approaches to history[change | change source]

The question of how a historian approaches historical events is one of the most important questions within historiography. It is commonly recognised by historians that, in themselves, individual historical facts are not particularly meaningful. Such facts will only become useful when assembled with other historical evidence, and the process of assembling this evidence is understood as a particular historiographical approach.

Some of the more common historigraphical approaches are:

Determinism[change | change source]

Determinism means that historians view history as being more caused by certain factors than other factors. The two most common types of determinism are geographic determinism and economic determinism. Geographic determinism means that historians think history is mostly caused by geography. Frederick Jackson Turner thought that. Economic determinism means that historians think history is mostly caused by economics. Charles Beard thought that. Other historians believe that history is caused mostly by politics or mostly by a struggle for natural rights, but these are not usually called determinism.

References[change | change source]

  1. Livy's History of Rome: Book 9
  2. Warren, John (1998). The past and its presenters: an introduction to issues in historiography, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 0-340-67934-4, p. 78-79.

Bibliography[change | change source]

Theory and philosophy[change | change source]

Histories of historical writing[change | change source]

  • Geoffrey Barraclough, History: Main Trends of Research in the Social and Human Sciences, (1978)
  • Michael Bentley (ed.), Companion to Historiography, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 0-415-28557-7 990pp; 39 chapters by experts
  • Ernst Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, 2nd edition, 1994, ISBN 0-226-07278-9
  • H. Floris Cohen, The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry, Chicago, 1994, ISBN 0-226-11280-2
  • Mark T. Gilderhus, History an Historiographical Introduction, 2002, ISBN 0-13-044824-9
  • Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the 20th Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (2005)
  • Susan Kinnell, Historiography: An Annotated Bibliography of Journal Article, Books and Dissertations, 1987, ISBN 0-87436-168-0
  • Lloyd Kramer and Sarah Maza, eds. A Companion to Western Historical Thought Blackwell 2006. 520pp; ISBN 978-1-4051-4961-7.
  • Arnaldo Momigliano, The Classical Foundation of Modern Historiography, 1990, ISBN 0-520-07870-5
  • Philippe Poirrier, Aborder l'histoire, Paris, Seuil, 2000.
  • Philippe Poirrier,Les enjeux de l'histoire culturelle, Paris, Seuil, 2004.

Feminist historiography[change | change source]

  • Mary Ritter Beard, Woman as force in history: A study in traditions and realities
  • Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds its Past: Placing Women in History, New York: Oxford University Press 1979
  • Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, and Historical Practice, Harvard UP 2000
  • Mary Spongberg, Writing women's history since the Renaissance, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002
  • Judith M. Bennett, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006

Thematic and regional[change | change source]

  • John Ernest. Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861. University of North Carolina Press, 2004
  • Frank Farrell. Themes in Australian History: Questions, Issues and Interpretation in an Evolving Historiography (1990)
  • Marc Ferro, Cinema and History, Wayne State University Press, 1988
  • R. Darcy and Richard C. Rohrs, A Guide to Quantitative History (1995)
  • Hudson, Pat. History by Numbers: An Introduction to Quantitative Approaches (2002)
  • James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Touchstone Books 1996
  • Tessa Morris-Suzuki, The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History, 2005, ISBN 1-85984-513-4
  • Gary Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross Dunn. History on Trial: Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past, (2000)
  • Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession (1988), ISBN 0-521-34328-3
  • Thomas Söderqvist. The Historiography of Contemporary Science and Technology (1997)
  • Sommer, Barbara W. The Oral History Manual (2003)
  • Jan Vansina, "Oral Tradition as History," University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1985
  • Yerushalmi, Yosef Hayim. Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory (1982)

Journals[change | change source]

Other pages[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]