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On the Future of HistoryThe Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath$
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Ernst Breisach

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226072791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.001.0001

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Narrativist History in the Poststructuralist Mode

Narrativist History in the Poststructuralist Mode

(p.72) 15 Narrativist History in the Poststructuralist Mode
On the Future of History
University of Chicago Press

For one group of scholars, poststructuralist postmodernism's influence on history came in the context of a long-standing debate: the one about the role of the narrative in history. The key issue in the debate was the historians' insistence on a strict separation of historical from fictional accounts (in modern terms, of historiography from literature). Aristotle's dictum that poetics was superior to history because it treated general rather than specific human situations has reverberated throughout the centuries. Historians would protest that the dictum was at least half wrong. In the nineteenth century, the so-called literary historians considered language to be the neutral medium in which findings about the past were symbolically expressed. Via style, language was granted a limited active role in constructing historical accounts.

Keywords:   poststructuralist postmodernism, historiography, narrative history, literary historians, historical accounts

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