History as a Kind of WritingTextual Strategies in Contemporary French Historiography

History as a Kind of WritingTextual Strategies in Contemporary French Historiography

Philippe Carrard

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780226427966

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book examines conventions of writing in contemporary French historiography. It asks how French historians organize their texts; whether they stage themselves or seek to conceal their presence; whether (and how) they give actors their own voices; on what strategies they rely to guarantee the validity of their accounts of the past; whether they turn, in the course of such accounts, to figures of speech and other rhetorical devices; and whether, their reputation as traditionalists notwithstanding, they occasionally dare to experiment with the available forms of historiographic discourse. Examining what Ricoeur calls the “representation stage” of the historians’ enterprise makes it possible to revisit some key issues, such as the assumed necessary membership of historiographic discourse in the narrative genre, the purported objectivity of that discourse, and the identity of history as a “science,” though one that is distinct from the natural and theoretical sciences. In this respect, the book takes part in debates about the status of history, and more generally of the human sciences, in the early twenty-first century.