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The Experience of History



The Experience of History

Kenneth Bartlett

ISBN: 978-1-118-91198-3 December 2016 Wiley-Blackwell 168 Pages

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The Experience of History is a lively and passionate introduction to the field that encourages students to seek and appreciate history inside the classroom and beyond. This work:

  • Defines history as a discipline and the role of historians within it
  • Addresses the analytical and critical thinking skills needed to engage with the past
  • Discusses a variety of important topics in the study of history, such as historical evidence, primary documents, divisions of history, forms of historical writing, historiographical traditions, and recent categories of historical research

Written by a renowned scholar of European history, this work helps students to become discerning examiners of history and historical evidence in a variety of modern settings like art, architecture, film, television, politics, current events, and more.

Learn more about the author and his passion for history in this interview with popular blog Five Books:

Preface viii

1 Introduction 1

We are All Part of the Evidence 4

A Personal Example 6

2 The Historian not the History 12

Ideological History 14

Ethnic or National History 17

Distant Voices 18

Historical Style or Genre 20

The Older Historian 21

History by Non‐Historians 23

Historical Jargon 25

History in Translation 26

3 If not the Historian, then Certainly the Evidence 28

The Nature of Evidence 28

Taxation Records 30

Court or Legal Documents 32

Eye‐Witness Evidence 33

Using Evidence Requires Skill and Experience 35

Drawings as Evidence 36

Photographs as Evidence 37

Aural Evidence 38

Missing or Negative Evidence 39

Conclusion 45

4 The Periods and Divisions of History 46

Historical Periodization: History as Chunks of Time 46

The Example of the Middle Ages 47

Historical Periods Defined by Dynamic Ideas 49

Historical Periods Defined by Great Men or Women 54

Historical Periods Defined by Specific Years or Centuries 56

The Study of History through Geographical Categories 58

History as Chunks of Space 60

5 The Many and Various Forms of Historical Writing: The More Traditional Structures 64

The Chronicle 65

Political History 67

Diplomatic History 68

Legal History 69

Military History 69

Economic History 70

Subgenres of Economic History 73

Cultural and Intellectual History 73

Church or Confessional History 76

Jewish History 78

Histories of other Heterodox Religious Communities 79

6 The Many and Various Forms of Historical Writing: More Recent Categories of Historical Research 81

Social History 81

Prosopography 84

Gendered Histories 85

Women’s History 86

Feminist History 87

Gender History 88

Queer History 89

Children’s History 91

Transnational History 93

Diaspora Studies 94

Holocaust Studies 95

Genocide Studies 96

World History 97

Big History 98

7 The Writing of History 100

The Writing of History in the Past 101

The Deeds of Great Men 101

History as a Divine Plan 102

The Scientific Revolution, The Enlightenment, and the ‘Laws’ of History 103

History and Social Darwinism 104

Writing History After the Second World War 106

The Writing of History Today 107

An Example 108

Framing the Question 109

The State of the Question 110

Deciding on a Beginning and an End 111

The Contract with Your Audience 112

Structure 113

A Conclusion 114

Bibliographies and Notes 114

Maps and Illustrations 116

Envoi 117

8 Experiencing History 119

History Around Us 119

Museums and Art Galleries 125

History as Breaking News 128

Film and Television 129

Electronic Records, Social Media, and History 131

History from Evidence on the Internet 134

9 Conclusion 136

We are All Historians 136

We are All Disciples of Descartes 138

Some Final Words 140

Suggestions for Further Reading 142

Index 145