The challenge of poststructuralism
in The houses of history
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The 1980s engagement of historians with poststructuralism was referred to as the 'cultural turn', and this began as an involvement mainly with the linguistic theories. This chapter discusses the main ideas of poststructuralism. For historians, many poststructuralist topics and methods of investigation are a legacy of the work of Foucault. Much of Foucault's work engaged with the marginalized groups in society. Foucault broke from earlier histories in his rejection of meta-narratives, overarching theories of human development through time, and of historical continuity. Foucault has also been widely criticized for historical inaccuracies. The chapter provides an extract from the City of Dreadful Delight, which is characteristic of poststructuralist history, to show the intersection of knowledge and power, and the subversive and contradictory nature of popular discourse.

The houses of history

A critical reader in history and theory, second edition

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