Engaging with historiography
in Historiography
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This chapter provides a guide to reading historiographical texts, looking at the relationship between 'facts' and 'theories', and at 'meta-narrative' and causation. The examples are chosen to illustrate the problems inherent in the idea of there being an easy distinction between fact and theory. They include the empiricist-Marxist debate on the French Revolution, class and English social history, and imperialism in the context of globalisation. Historians can be excused for feeling very ambivalent about the relationship between narrative and historical explanation. Narrative often appears to be the lazy way of avoiding a selection of material or the application of reason to a historical problem. Narration can be taken to imply a causal connection between events that are narrated consecutively. A successful narrative always has to have an analytical structure as well; and, in historiography, an analytical approach has an implied narrative, if it is to have any meaning.


An introduction


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