Key Issues in Historical Theory is a fresh, clear and well-grounded introduction to this vibrant field of inquiry, incorporating many examples from novels, paintings, music, and political debates. The book expertly engages the reader in discussions of what history is, how people relate to the past and how they are formed by the past.
Over 11 thematically-based chapters, Herman Paul discusses subjects such as:
history, memory and trauma
historical experience and narrative
moral and political dimensions of history
historical reasoning and explanation
truth, plausibility and objectivity.
Key Issues in Historical Theory convincingly shows that historical theory is not limited to reflection on professional historical studies, but offers valuable tools for understanding autobiographical writing, cultural heritage and political controversies about the past.
With textboxes providing additional focus on a range of key topics, this is an attractive, accessible and up-to-date guide to the field of historical theory.
Herman Paul is Associate Professor of Historical Theory and Historiography at Leiden University, where he directs a research project on `The Scholarly Self: Character, Habit, and Virtue in the Humanities, 1860-1930'. His publications include Hayden White: The Historical Imagination (Polity Press, 2011).
List of tables. Preface. Acknowledgments. 1.What is historical theory? 2. What is the past? 3. Relations with the past 4. The material relation: rooted in the past 5. The aesthetic relation: historical narratives 6. The political relation: making history .7 The epistemic relation (i): historical hypotheses 8. The epistemic relation (ii): historical explanations 9. The epistemic relation (iii): truth and plausibility. 10 The moral relation: lessons from the past 11. Relations management: the ethics of historical scholarship Index.