Department of History
The University of Chicago
THE MEANING OF HISTORY
Why study history? Why write history? What is its purpose? Does it have a meaning? What are its potentialities and limitations? What are the social and intellectual responsibilities of its authors and interpreters? What does it have to do with time? narrative? identity? morality? This course is intended as a pragmatic introduction to the philosophy of history, with special emphasis on the epistemological and hermeneutic problems practicing historians encounter in the writing of history. It is therefore not a course in methodology so much as a course in what Hayden White has called "metahistory," in the rhetorical and cognitive decisions that historians make as they confront their evidence. Our purpose will be to discover a way to think about "doing history" that both acknowledges history's greater purpose and does justice to contemporary convictions about the possibility of "knowing" the past.
Jan. 10 Introduction
Nancy Partner, "Making Up Lost Time: Writing on the Writing of History," Speculum 61/1 (1986): 90-117.
________, "Historicity in an Age of Reality-Fictions," in A New Philosophy of History, eds. Frank Ankersmit and Hans Kellner (Chicago, 1995), 21-39.
Jan. 17 The Problem c. 1989
AHR Forum with David Harlan, David Hollinger, Allan Megill, Theodore S. Hamerow, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Lawrence Levine, Joan Wallach Scott, and John Toews, American Historical Review 94.3 (June 1989): 581-698.
Jan. 24 History as Narrative I
Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, 1973), ix-xii, 1-42.
*________, "The Burden of History," "Interpretation in History," "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," in Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore, 1978), 27-100.
Richard T. Vann, Nancy Partner, Ewa Domanska, and F.R. Ankersmit, "Hayden White: Twenty-Five Years On," History and Theory 37/2 (1998): 143-93.
Jan. 31 History as Narrative II
*Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative: Vol. 3, trans. Kathleen Blamey and David Pellauer (Chicago, 1988), 99-274.
Hayden White, "The Metaphysics of Narrativity: Time and Symbol in Ricoeur's Philosophy of History," in The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore, 1987), 169-84.
Feb. 7 History as Narrative III
*David Carr, Time, Narrative and History (Bloomington, 1986).
Feb. 14 History as Explanation I
*Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, Emilio Betti and Paul Ricoeur, in The Hermeneutic Tradition from Ast to Ricoeur, eds. with Introduction by Gayle L. Ormiston and Alan D. Schrift (Albany, NY, 1990), 147-334.
Martin Jay, "Should Intellectual History Take a Linguistic Turn? Reflections on the Habermas-Gadamer Debate," in Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives, eds. Dominick LaCapra and Steven L. Kaplan (Ithaca, 1982), 86-110.
Feb. 21 History as Explanation II
*George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought (New York, 1999), 133-334.
Feb. 28 History as Explanation III
*John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, "The Psychological Foundations of Culture," in The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, eds. Jerome Barkow, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby (New York and Oxford, 1992), 19-136.
William H. Sewell, Jr., "A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation," American Journal of Sociology 98/1 (July 1992): 1-29.
Clifford Geertz, "The Growth of Culture and the Evolution of Mind," in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (New York, 1973), 55-83.
Mar. 6 What does it mean?
R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History, rev. ed. with Lectures 1926-1928, ed. with Introduction by Jan van der Dussen (Oxford, 1994), 426-96.
*Clayton Roberts, The Logic of Historical Explanation (University Park, Pennsylvania, 1996).
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