History in the historiographical sense is made by us, not by people in the past,
nor by the record of their actions. This book facilitates the critical reading
of works of history. It looks at the historical profession, its predilections
and traditions. The Whig interpretation of history has been chosen to illustrate
the relationship between historiography and a prevalent culture because of its
central role in the period when the historical profession began to establish
itself in England and because of its continuing popular and political influence.
The book acts as a guide to reading historiographical texts, looking at the
relationship between 'facts' and 'theories', and at
'meta-narrative' and causation. The book examines the issues of
planning and structuring in the process of writing an essay. It offers a guide
to the writing of academic history at undergraduate level and to the skills
involved, and contrasts this with the non-academic uses of history. The book
talks about some gender historians who viewed gender identities as expressions
of social change within a wider society. It explores the unique fascination that
the Nazis has exercised on both academic and popular historiography, along with
the allied study of the Holocaust. The book also explores the works of Marxist
historians associated with the Communist Party Historians' Group and
considers the earlier approaches to cultural history, as influences on the
Group, and the development of newer theoretical positions that developed both
out of and in opposition to Marxism. The developments in British historiography
In Chapter 2 we looked at academic historiography as the context in which most recent works of historical scholarship have to be assessed. In this chapter we provide a guide to reading those texts. As before, we will illustrate the arguments with historiographical examples.
Facts and theories
As we have seen, there have been a number of schools of history in different places at different times. Some have been naive in the sense that they represented the conventional views of the age or of a particular educated social group, which may have been conscious
conjure a picture of the mindless anti-German ‘patriotism’ that characterises elements of British society, and is most apparent in the violent exploits of some football supporters. 1 However much we may deplore such attitudes and activities, as students of historiography we are still faced with a question which the HA report does not address, which is: if wide sections of British society are obsessed with Nazi Germany, why is that the case? We might also ask: is it the case that this is simply a British obsession?
The Nazis and the wider world
In 2000 the American
1930 to the Present (Macmillan, 1996) p. 2.
14 Ibid., pp. 135–6.
15 J.B. Priestley, Out of the People (William Heinemann Ltd., 1941), pp. 105–6.
16 A discussion of Baxendale and Pawling’s work is contained in, for example, R. Spalding, ‘Popular Historiography and the Second World War’, Socialist History , Spring 1999, pp. 54–67.
17 A.J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (Penguin, 1964); E.M. Robinson (ed.), The Origins of the Second World War (Macmillan, 1976); G. Martel (ed.), The Origins of the Second World War Reconsidered: A
We have tried to show ways in which a critical intelligence can be brought to bear upon historiography. For the undergraduate readers especially, we have tried to indicate the need for an informed reading of texts. In the rush to complete assessed work there is too often a tendency to strip-mine texts for ‘facts’ rather than to engage critically with their authors. We have tried to indicate some of the issues to bear in mind when assessing historiographical debates and the extent to which some interpretations depend on wider narratives or preconceived ideas
The purpose of this book is to facilitate the critical reading of works of history. We use the term ‘history’ in at least two ways. It is the word often used to mean the past; and it also means that which is written about the past — historiography or a description of the past. Not all descriptions of the past have to be presented in the form of the printed word, but whatever the medium, the point is that there is a distinction between the past and a description of it. This simple observation, however, is accompanied by a warning that the relationship between
anything wrong with the way more formal historical study connects with a wider audience; the explanation may lie outside the world of historiography and be more to do with the pressures on the curriculum, including official pressure to have vocational courses and the popularity of certain new subjects. However, although at the time of writing the downward trend in numbers seems to have stopped and was never evident in the universities, it does raise the question of what exactly ‘academic’ history is and how well it relates to the needs and interests of society.
as an example of the development outlined by Cannadine. It presents gender identities, of both men and women, as cultural and social constructs, as, in other words, bundles of meanings usually embodied in language. As the web site of the journal, Gender & History states:
Gender & History aims to create productive debates and dialogues across subfields, historiographies, and theoretical orientations. It does so by publishing field-defining work on changing conceptions, practices and semiotics of gender – femininities, masculinities and their historical
The rhetoric of ideology haunts Irish fiction. In this book, I map these rhetorical hauntings across a wide range of postcolonial Irish novels, and define the specter as a non-present presence that simultaneously symbolizes and analyzes an overlapping of Irish myth and Irish history. By exploring this exchange between literary discourse and historical events, Haunted Historiographies provides literary historians and cultural critics a theory of the specter that exposes the various complex ways in which novelists remember, represent, and reinvent historical narrative. Haunted Historiographies juxtaposes canonical and non-canonical novels that complicate long-held assumptions about four definitive events in modern Irish history—the Great Famine, the Irish Revolution, the Second World War, and the Northern Irish Troubles—to demonstrate how historiographical Irish fiction from James Joyce and Samuel Beckett to Roddy Doyle and Sebastian Barry is both a product of Ireland’s colonial history, and also the rhetorical means by which a post-colonial culture has emerged.
Historiography and context
Background and historiography
In historical and contemporary terms, Ireland and Scotland have extensive
pedigrees in relation to migration. The major outﬂows, however, occurred
from the nineteenth century onwards. Between 1801 and 1921 8 million
Irish sought new lives on distant shores, while the remainder of the twentieth
century saw approximately 2 million people depart the island of Ireland, with
at least one quarter of those leaving Northern Ireland. Such was the insatiable
impetus of the outﬂow in the later nineteenth century