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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 17:08

I saw "Rebel Heart" and reckoned that its claim to be a docudrama was non-existent. It documented nothing historically from the period (set down on record a version of events as based on witness and participant testimony or observation of their actions). It failed even worse as drama - all the characters were robots, not just the British, and made one wonder how Ireland escaped as an entity after such a cyborg conflict in its past.

Bad drama, even bad drama not necessarily based on historical events, is analogous with bad historians' product in that both purport to deliver one thing and then deliver something much inferior. However Southgate is mistaken in thinking the role of an historian is primarily to narrate a historical theme as a sequence of events. The comment just demonstrates the type of stuff Southgate reads when she thinks she's reading "history", and how much she investigates an historical theme she might be interested in, or thinks she is.

It reminds me of some years ago when a series on ITV was made of the Brontës' alleged life story. Suddenly everyone was an expert on the subject, at least amongst the chattering classes. But then came the inevitable release of a thousand books (some knocked together quickly, some rehashed versions of older tomes) which flooded the market in anticipation of the Southgate type, who thinks that out there is a "definitive biography", and who wants to steal a march on the rest of the dinner party bores. Reviews were pitched to that class, and under a process of elimination based on marketing ploys rather than comparison of content the list was whittled down at last to a final two or three "definitive" ones. It was only a matter of time before the Southgates then realised they'd been had, and the criticism was now levelled at the two or three biographers who had "won" the great Brontë Bash, precisely with the type of criticism you have quoted from Beverley above.

The historians in this case were no cleverer or stupider than each other, or than historians have ever been. The readership was where the real stupidity lay.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 17:53

Beverley Southgate has a confusing name (she is actually a he) - a bit like Timothy the Courtenay Tortoise (he is a she). I got it wrong too.

Southgate is Reader Emeritus in the History of Ideas at the University of Hertfordshire. Rather a new-fangled title if you ask me - Lord knows what Catty would make of it.

I can't remember now who recommended Southgate to me - possibly someone over on the BBC. But History: What and Why? is an interesting read, especially if followed by the Evans book. Southgate has since written other stuff which I've not bothered with.

(Bronte biographies - I always found it best to stick with Juliet Barker and Winifred Gerin, plus Elizabeth Gaskell of course for the Victorian version of Charlotte's life. There's also Daphne du Maurier's much neglected Infernal World of Branwell Bonte - controversial interpretation, but a great read.)
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 17:57

One marmite docudrama was Channel 4's The Last Days of the Raj made in 2007 to mark the 60th anniversary of Indian independence. In fact it manages to be both a brilliant documentary and a dreadful drama at one and the same time. A real brain-melter. What were the producers thinking?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 19:00

I'm hoping Beverley didn't learn the entire history of ideas from one book - but then if the book is Bronowski maybe we'll forgive him (and anyway I have a soft spot for all "Boy Named Sue" victims, having had a Mary as best mate in my schooldays and seeing at first hand what can happen).

Dramatised documentary can be an excellent way of portraying, for example, the relationship between two or at least a small number of people, either over time or, probably at its best, in a particular "defining moment" of history. "The Bunker", for example, was as good as reading umpteen books concerning Hitler's last days. Though of course what it did not try to do was to portray the ongoing events in the background which were underlining his descent into morbidity and borderline lunacy. You need books for that, and by several authors I would imagine.

Docudramas that attempt a grand theme, like the fall of the Roman Empire or the Irish War of Independence are doomed before they even begin. Though given the amount of attempts out there, there must still be a good market for the product. Whatever that market is, it's not comprised of people hoping to properly research the subject.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 20:15

On the flip side you can sometimes get a docudrama which is lousy documentary but is great drama.

An obvious one would be one of the very first docudramas which was the BBC's 1963 film Culloden directed by Peter Watkiss. It was based on the eponymous but historically dodgy book by John Prebble published the previous year. For example in the very first sentence of the program it refers to 'the English government army’. But that said, the actual re-enactment and re-creation of the battle with all its accompanying dirt, thirst, hunger and fear is simply terrific.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 21 Apr 2013, 22:11

PaulRyckier wrote:
Addendum to the previous message.
First of all the article that I want to comment is not from a Dutch historian De vries but from a Dutch historian P. H. H. Vries or Peer Vries.
http://www.ae-info.org/ae/User/Vries_Peer/CV

I prefer the wording of Peer Vries above those of a Chris Lorenz and a lot more than the wording of an Ankersmit, which is nearly not understandable for a non-initiated one as I am. And it is not better when reading the texts in Dutch or in English...

In his article about the book of Chris Lorenz Peer Vries uses a formulation about history that I find very relevant:
history writing: it is to reproduce in an interpretative synthesis the facts and the explanations (statements?) (in Dutch: verklaringen), which the historical research has produced.
For me is that interesting for the debate: "is history writing a science?", as that definition splits the history writing in two fields: first the certainly (and I think nobody will deny that) scientific historical research and then secondly the interpretative synthesis...and it is in that second field that all the difficulties and controversies of the historical debate lie? I suppose...

I prepared a résumé of the article of Peer Vries and my comments, but to put it in this message it is too late in the night. It will be for tomorrow if I will have time.

Kind regards, Paul.

Before I reply to Nordmann, Temperance and Ferval I want first to end my résumé (in fact not a résumé but more the essential points that are relevant in my personal opinion).

The comments of Peer Vries on the book of Chris Lorenz. The construction of the past. An introduction in the theory of history.

First Peer Vries says it is a very good book. Some critique: Lorenz don't say enough about the problems of the narrativists (genre Ankersmit). Who has followed the debates of the last decennia will say that it always came down on a wording of the controversies between historism and positivism. Lorenz calls for instance the anti-positivists: hermeneutists. Lorenz wants to breach this impasse by a third way between the two but reading the book that third way seems to be a second hand positivism.

Lorenz: real objectivity is impossible. But objectivity can be approached by the mutual critique from the scientific practioners. That implies discussions. But it is not enough to discuss, it is also a matter "how" one discusses. Who regularly follows discussions, has to agree that not every discussion, even not each intervenant contributes to the reaching of objectivity. Contributors can use good and bad arguments, can argue well or badly. The quality of the real statements and the resoning within a discussion that's the point. But Peer Vries realizes that ideal situations will always remain utopias.

Kind regards, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 08:19

I wouldn't worry too much about the positivist/anti-positivist argument, and throwing in hermeneutics is a complete red herring in any historiographical debate, I find - favoured by those who, in an argument that they realise they cannot win, then simply want to make sure that the other side cannot win it either. It's academic gamesmanship, and has no relevance outside of that. I would be very stupid indeed to think that any author has interpreted a text without some subjectivity, so therefore as a reader I accept that hermeneuticism is part and parcel of historical research. It is unavoidable in a field of research conducted by humans about humans, and indeed long may it continue! The day when texts are interpreted robotically according to pre-defined algorithms is the day history dies as a subject of research.

The importance of the positivist stance an historian takes however cannot be underestimated, though neither extreme poses a threat to what might be called historical integrity as long as output is produced from both sides. If, for example, you take a random selection of currently best-selling history titles in your bookshop you would be forgiven for expecting beforehand that the bulk of them would fit into the anti-positivist bracket - that is that their authors are leaning to the side of "debunking" theory in formulating (or pretending to formulate) an alternative theory regarding whatever theme they've chosen. But in fact the split between the two is almost fifty-fifty. It seems the general public, rather than caring much about either stance, instead on the whole want to read a balanced mix of output. Individual readers might lean one way or the other when it comes to positivism in what they read but the books that sell generally favour neither side.

The actual problem with regard to authors' approach these days - and specifically approach that sells - is the number of what I would call fraudulent history books that have insinuated themselves into both categories. Broadly speaking there is an "American school" (though school is misleading as it implies education) which contains a growing number of authors who use the commercially proven popularity of sensationalism to employ both positivism and anti-positivist historical claims which amount to little more than unfounded assertions. On the other hand you have what could be called a "rest of the world school" which nominally adheres to a more traditional approach to backing up assertion with data (or just pretending to), and into which more and more books composed, marketed and sold are being based on, or at least indistuinguishable from, the American model. Less sensationalism maybe, but even that is changing for the worse too.

The result is that the concerns of Lorenz, as you point out above, are becoming less relevant as time goes on. An increasingly greater threat exists to historical integrity than any author's tendency or otherwise to positivism. What has become more and more prevalent is the instance of what I would call absolute fancy being marketed as "historical". In other words the issue is no longer about how many authors might inadvertently produce misleading historical narratives due to their historiographical leanings, but about how many authors are now entering the market who have set out to intentionally deceive in that they allow their works of utter fancy to be marketed as history.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 09:29

What an excellent post (and I only had to read it three times to understand it, which is most encouraging). Seriously, I agree with what you say with all of my anti-positivist heart.

nordmann wrote:
An increasingly greater threat exists to historical integrity than any author's tendency or otherwise to positivism. What has become more and more prevalent is the instance of what I would call absolute fancy being marketed as "historical". In other words the issue is no longer about how many authors might inadvertently produce misleading historical narratives due to their historiographical leanings, but about how many authors are now entering the market who have set out to intentionally deceive in that they allow their works of utter fancy to be marketed as history.

Yes, there is a turf war going on and these - the real barbarians - have now got through the intellectual gates. They are winning. The awful thing is that it was the postmodernists who let them in. "Absolute fancy" is not admitted to be such; inaccurate nonsense is trumpeted as a legitimate alternative "version" of truth, which is then accepted by the people to whom the stuff is peddled as the truth. Ironic maybe, but also utterly depressing.

People who care about intellectual integrity (I hope that doesn't sound too pretentious) - positivists and anti-positivists or whatever - should be allies in this war, not enemies. We are all postpositivists now, and there is an awful lot at stake.

And not just in the study of history, but that's another story.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 09:48

Couldn't agree more. I have tentatively suggested in the past that one could begin with a "War on 'War on Terror'", if only to show the world the important ramifications of wilful semantic deviation in society today. Then I thought the Animal Liberation approach might be better and organise night-time raids on Barnes & Noble to "liberate" innocent historical books from their captivity alongside bullshit. In the end I decided to write a very strong letter to the Daily Mail.

PS - there is no such thing as a post-positivist. Even to think it makes one an anti-positivist. There is no middle ground in that war, ma'am. But I agree - kill the postmodernists and let's make a postpostmodernism which is still not modernism! Integralists of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chain-causality theory!
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 10:04

There is no need to be sarcastic, sir. I'm only trying to take an interest (and I do really hate Philippa Gregory with all my heart).

I haven't written to the Daily Mail yet, but I do give very stern looks to anyone I catch reading Gregory's Red or White Queens. I suppose she'll do a Blue Queen next - not sure if that'll be about Jane Shore or Lord Hastings. Not that it matters.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 10:23

Sarcasm is not what I had in mind - you underestimate how genuinely I have considered the above-named options!

Gregory, as a writer of fiction, should not even be relevant to this debate. The fact however that she claims to have conducted "research" in a manner befitting an actual historian (and apparently believes the claim) just goes to show how many so-called historians can now be tarred with the same brush, prior of course to feathering. The unhappy fact is that she is nominally correct in her claim, at least based on the bookshelf approach to gauging such matters. This is one of the real evidences of the gates having been breached - the mini-war presently ongoing concerning the UK school history curriculum being another.

But in all this the readers themselves cannot be absolved of blame. During last week's media frenzy concerning the suspected bombers' escapades in Boston the Czech embassy in the USA felt obliged to release a press statement that they were not in fact Chechnya. Where, one might ask, is the relevance of positivism - or indeed integrity itself - in that mess?
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 13:29

Maybe it's time for the 'Czech Republic' to rename itself Bohemia-Moravia. It would be a long overdue correction. It's not just the dopey element in the US which gets confused. Way back in 1996 during the European Championship I lost count of the number of times I had to explain to friends and acquaintances in the UK the difference between the Czech Republic and Croatia and that, no, the team in the check shirts were not the Czechs.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Mon 22 Apr 2013, 14:00

And we won't even start with the confusion the poor Slovenes and Slovaks encounter abroad, even without the bulk of the USA citizenship probably having heard of either in any case. They don't even share a border with each other, just a fellow hankering to emphasise their Slavic ethnicity compared to some near neighbours.

Maybe they should revert to Pannonia and Marcomannia.

PS: On second thoughts that would probably lead to the Fourth Illyrian War. Best leave well enough alone and let the Americans think Budweiser and dollars are pure yankee.

No wait, that's the Croats again, isn't it - the ones who invented ties and cheque books.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Tue 23 Apr 2013, 19:53

Not prepared this evening to participate in the "heavy" discussion. Although I have already a "planning" Wink ...

Kind regards and with esteem for all the erudite participants,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Wed 24 Apr 2013, 22:55

Today is Anzac Day in NZ and Australia and the media is full of it, as well as new books written to coincide with it every year. One reviewer has begun, "It is generally acknowledged that there are three stages in writing about and understanding history - bunk, debunk and rebunk." He is reviewing a(nother) book on Gallipoli, and said this is still in the debunking stage.

I don't know what happens after the rebunking stage - does history for that time then get set in concrete, or forgotten, or does it go back again to debunking? This series seems to me to be relevant perhaps more for war history than other history (though how much history isn't war history of some sort or another?). Battles are forever being re-run and new people blamed for defeats on un-victories.

Our Saturday's paper had reviews of seven books about war - Gallipoli, Korea, the French resistance, remembrances of war veterans (oral histories done 20 years ago and written up as 60 vignettes), the Vrete campaign and a couple of children's novels based on true events.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Thu 25 Apr 2013, 07:45

Quote :
And we won't even start with the confusion the poor Slovenes and Slovaks

In a quiz that I took part with my two sons, amongst others, there was a round to identify the flags of all EU countries. My 2 sons, due to their following of football, had a very good knowledge of the countries flags and identified them all with certainty except they agonised over which was the flag of Slovenia and which of Slovakia. They did, however, get them right and we were the only team to get all the flags correct.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Thu 25 Apr 2013, 08:11

I realised I was out of my depth once in a pub quiz when the question was asked - how many soviet republics were there in the USSR? Two of my team mates disagreed - one said 14 and another said 15. So to settle the matter they each wrote out the list of all the names of all the republics off the top of their head (the guy who said 15 was right).
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Thu 25 Apr 2013, 18:39

That could potentially also have been a very sneaky trick question. The reason is that although there were 15 'sovereign' republics in the Soviet Union, the largest of those, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, itself included numerous 'autonomous' republics within it.

Talking about Russia - if all history is modern history then it could also be said that all modern history is Russian history. For example, why were the New Zealanders fighting in Korea in the 1950s?
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Fri 26 Apr 2013, 09:55

All fighting by NZers since before the end of the 19th century have been to keep us in favour with someone or other, though not always directly against the Russians. What I don't understand is what were known as Russian scares here - every now and again at the end of the 19th century we apparently got in a panic about the Russians invading and made preparations to combat this. Some newspaper article which was a hoax got everyone all het up in 1873. And then in 1885 events in Afghanistan evidently meant high alert here. I don't know why we thought Russia would be so desperate to bring her ships all the way here to invade a couple of tiny little islands with hardly any people on them. We aren't even strategically important. Some of the fortifications made at that time are still visible.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Fri 26 Apr 2013, 22:00

nordmann wrote:
I wouldn't worry too much about the positivist/anti-positivist argument, and throwing in hermeneutics is a complete red herring in any historiographical debate, I find - favoured by those who, in an argument that they realise they cannot win, then simply want to make sure that the other side cannot win it either. It's academic gamesmanship, and has no relevance outside of that. I would be very stupid indeed to think that any author has interpreted a text without some subjectivity, so therefore as a reader I accept that hermeneuticism is part and parcel of historical research. It is unavoidable in a field of research conducted by humans about humans, and indeed long may it continue! The day when texts are interpreted robotically according to pre-defined algorithms is the day history dies as a subject of research.

The importance of the positivist stance an historian takes however cannot be underestimated, though neither extreme poses a threat to what might be called historical integrity as long as output is produced from both sides. If, for example, you take a random selection of currently best-selling history titles in your bookshop you would be forgiven for expecting beforehand that the bulk of them would fit into the anti-positivist bracket - that is that their authors are leaning to the side of "debunking" theory in formulating (or pretending to formulate) an alternative theory regarding whatever theme they've chosen. But in fact the split between the two is almost fifty-fifty. It seems the general public, rather than caring much about either stance, instead on the whole want to read a balanced mix of output. Individual readers might lean one way or the other when it comes to positivism in what they read but the books that sell generally favour neither side.

The actual problem with regard to authors' approach these days - and specifically approach that sells - is the number of what I would call fraudulent history books that have insinuated themselves into both categories. Broadly speaking there is an "American school" (though school is misleading as it implies education) which contains a growing number of authors who use the commercially proven popularity of sensationalism to employ both positivism and anti-positivist historical claims which amount to little more than unfounded assertions. On the other hand you have what could be called a "rest of the world school" which nominally adheres to a more traditional approach to backing up assertion with data (or just pretending to), and into which more and more books composed, marketed and sold are being based on, or at least indistuinguishable from, the American model. Less sensationalism maybe, but even that is changing for the worse too.

The result is that the concerns of Lorenz, as you point out above, are becoming less relevant as time goes on. An increasingly greater threat exists to historical integrity than any author's tendency or otherwise to positivism. What has become more and more prevalent is the instance of what I would call absolute fancy being marketed as "historical". In other words the issue is no longer about how many authors might inadvertently produce misleading historical narratives due to their historiographical leanings, but about how many authors are now entering the market who have set out to intentionally deceive in that they allow their works of utter fancy to be marketed as history.

Nordmann,

first of all I want to say that my text from my message from 21 April is a bit misleading:
"Lorenz: real objectivity is impossible. But objectivity can be approached by the mutual critique from the scientific practioners. That implies discussions. But it is not enough to discuss, it is also a matter "how" one discusses. Who regularly follows discussions, has to agree that not every discussion, even not each intervenant contributes to the reaching of objectivity. Contributors can use good and bad arguments, can argue well or badly. The quality of the real statements and the resoning within a discussion that's the point. But Peer Vries realizes that ideal situations will always remain utopias."
It has to be read as: Lorenz: real objectivity is impossible. And then follows the comment from Peer Vries: But objectivity can be approached...
One has to be careful when editing a text...

By the way The above text of Peer Vries fits in my opinion neatly with your approach in your message of 28 March and my "interpretation"Wink:
""The study of history and its research too should both have as a primary aim the unearthing of sufficient data to lead to pluralistic interpretation. In my experience the most convincing historical theory results from when disparate analyses have had the opportunity to intelligently vie with each other in the public domain. Such theories also stand the greater chance of being logically incorporated into wider theory concerning their cultural and temporal contexts."
Completely agree with you, Nordmann.
Yes, as you said, the duty or task from any "earnest" historian would have to be: "the unearthing of sufficient data (and that in any field of human behaviour of the studied time/event without any moral or political restriction) and that in "intelligently" confrontation "in the public domain" with other earnest historians which in that case can lead to a "pluralistic interpretation" embedded in the reality of that particular time/event."

And yes, Peer Vries is also a bit pessimistic as you. And I read during my recent research about the difference between a more positivist approach from continental Europe (or the rest of the world as you called it) and the anglo-saxon world (the American school as you called it) but in my humble opinion you have as good a history writing on both sides or as bad a history writing. It depends all, again in my humble opinion, from the honesty and craftmanship of the involved historian. And I am fully aware that that is only an ideal, but one has to do the effort to go as far as possible to reach that ideal.
I have some Belgian schoolbooks from the 90ties and to me they seem one of the best and honest history writng that I have read till now.

And I join with the greatest conviction what Sweet Sister Temperance says in that battle:

"people who care about intellectual integrity (I hope that doesn't sound too pretentious)-positivists and anti-positivists or whatever-should be allies in this war, not enemies. We are all postpositivists now, and there is an awful lot at stake.

Kind regards and with esteem to all the contributors of this interesting thread,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sat 27 Apr 2013, 14:40

Quote :
...from continental Europe (or the rest of the world as you called it) and the anglo-saxon world (the American school as you called it)...

Forgive me Paul but that is not how I distinguished between them and thought I had given good reasons for the distinction I cited. The "American school" is precisely that - an approach and style originated and popularised in America. There is no "Anglo-Saxon" approach as such -whether one employs the term for its linguistic or its wider cultural inferences - and Britain's historiography lies well entrenched within that of a wider European traditional understanding of its function, and indeed as I said, an even wider "non-American" understanding at that, which at one time made the individuality of the American approach all the more singular.

But, as I also said, it is this distinction in any case which is breaking down and blurring. The American approach to how it understands, relates, defines and values historical data - one that was ultimately self-serving and therefore non-translatable - is now being adopted increasingly as a norm by the rest, and for motives that do not not necessarily accord with the placement of value on truth for its own sake. It is this that has led to the several lamentable results I have itemised, and concerning which I tried to explain the reasons for my lamentation in the posts above.
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sat 27 Apr 2013, 17:20

nordmann wrote:
The American approach to how it understands, relates, defines and values historical data - one that was ultimately self-serving and therefore non-translatable - is now being adopted increasingly as a norm by the rest, and for motives that do not not necessarily accord with the placement of value on truth for its own sake.
The seminal work in this was Frederick Jackson Turner's The Significance of the Frontier in American History which sought to mark a separate distinction between the US and European approaches to history. Turner's 'Frontier thesis' suggested that the American landscape and the proximity of the 'frontier' was central to the creation of the US identity and democratic institutions. This he contrasted with European traditions and mores which he saw as being more bound by deference to royalty, aristocracy and established churches etc.

The interesting thing about Turner's thesis was less than a year of its publication (1893) and also the location (Chicago). He delivered it in a reading to the American Historical Association at a meeting during the World's Fair held in the city that year. The Association was there because the fair itself had officially been dedicated in October 1892 to mark the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. And the World's Fair Columbian Exposition (to give it its full title) lasted until October 1893. Consequently (or co-incidentally) 1893 is also taken by many historians of the American Old West as marking the end of the period of the ‘Wild West’.

There are several reasons for this. One is that 1893 was only a year after the killing of Robert Ford in Colorado. This killing was itself a tail-end (or tale-end?) affair linked to Ford’s own killing of Jesse James in Missouri 10 years previously. This was the last of the famous (infamous?) tales of outlaws and violence in the Old West.

Another more obvious reason was the hosting of the World’s Fair by Chicago itself. The town had previously been known simply as ‘the gateway to the West’ (i.e. somewhere on the way to somewhere else) but was now confident enough to be seen as a global city in its own right. Significantly the Chicago World’s Fair also included the exhibition of Karl Benz’ Victoria ‘motorwagen’ automobile car – the first seen in America. Simultaneously that year a young American engineer working at Thomas Edison’s Illuminating Company by the name of Henry Ford (no relation to Robert) created his first petrol driven buggy. The advent of the motor car would, of course, spell the end not only of the Wild West but also of the Old West.

Turner’s ‘Frontier Thesis’, therefore, is seen as an incredibly prescient book particularly if one believes that Turner sensed then that the age of the American frontier had come to an end and that a new age in American history was beginning. That said - the thesis is not without critics (not least in America) where some see it as belonging to a particular school of anti-British thinking in the US. Needless to say the American view of themselves (and the rest of the world) has had ample scope for re-evaluation of the Frontier thesis in the 120 years since its publication.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: All History is Modern History ...   Sun 05 May 2013, 22:33

nordmann wrote:
Quote :
...from continental Europe (or the rest of the world as you called it) and the anglo-saxon world (the American school as you called it)...

Forgive me Paul but that is not how I distinguished between them and thought I had given good reasons for the distinction I cited. The "American school" is precisely that - an approach and style originated and popularised in America. There is no "Anglo-Saxon" approach as such -whether one employs the term for its linguistic or its wider cultural inferences - and Britain's historiography lies well entrenched within that of a wider European traditional understanding of its function, and indeed as I said, an even wider "non-American" understanding at that, which at one time made the individuality of the American approach all the more singular.

But, as I also said, it is this distinction in any case which is breaking down and blurring. The American approach to how it understands, relates, defines and values historical data - one that was ultimately self-serving and therefore non-translatable - is now being adopted increasingly as a norm by the rest, and for motives that do not not necessarily accord with the placement of value on truth for its own sake. It is this that has led to the several lamentable results I have itemised, and concerning which I tried to explain the reasons for my lamentation in the posts above.

Nordmann,

I read that much the last days about the subject, but I am nearly sure that one author made a distinction between the English language history writing, which he called Anglo-Saxon as opposed to the more "positivist" traditional history writing from Europe, but it can be that he meant more the American approach? Even academici aren't always that "strict" about their name gaving.

But as I read you I can now understand what you meant by the American "school" and the rest of the world. And yes from my non academic knowledge I can understand and agree that Britain although writing in English adheres still to the European/rest of the world "school" which is more "traditional".
Although I have to bow for your greater knowledge of the present day history writing, I am hesitating to see that great difference between American and European "honest" academic history works, but I am perhaps a few decades behind the nowadays reality? And in the past you had also controversies...for instance I still remember the row about William II 's guilt from the Brit Röhl:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._G._R%C3%B6hl

Kind regards and with great esteem,

Paul.
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