Cover image for The purpose of the past : reflections on the uses of history
The purpose of the past : reflections on the uses of history
Wood, Gordon S.
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Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Press, 2008.
Physical Description:
323 pages ; 24 cm
History is to society what memory is to the individual: without it, we don't know who we are, and we can't make wise decisions about where we should be going. But while the nature of memory is a constant, the nature of history has changed radically over the past forty years, for good but also for ill. Historian Wood examines the sea change in the field, offers insight into what historians do, and how they can stumble. New currents of thought have brought refreshing changes to the discipline, expanding its compass to previously underexamined and undervalued groups and subjects. At the same time, however, extreme, even nihilistic, relativism has assaulted the relevance, even the legitimacy, of the historian's work, and the divide between academic and popular historians has widened into a chasm, separating some of the field's most important new ideas from any kind of real audience.--From publisher description.
"Influence" in history -- Anachronism in history -- Narrative history -- The lessons of history -- Continuity in history -- History and the new historicism -- History as fiction -- History as high politics -- Microhistory -- Truth in history -- History versus political theory -- History without ideas -- History and heritage -- Comparative history -- Postmodern history -- Satirical history -- Multicultural history -- History and myth -- History as cultural criticism -- Race, class, gender and history writing -- Presentism in history.
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