1st Edition

Historical Research, Creative Writing, and the Past Methods of Knowing

Edited By Kevin A. Morrison, Pälvi Rantala Copyright 2023
    268 Pages 21 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Although historical research undertaken in different disciplines often requires speculation and imagination, it remains relatively rare for scholars to foreground these processes explicitly as a knowing method. Historical Research, Creative Writing, and the Past brings together researchers in a wide array of disciplines, including literary studies and history, ethnography, design, film, and sound studies, who employ imagination, creativity, or fiction in their own historical scholarship or who analyze the use of imagination, creativity, or fiction to make historical claims by others. This volume is organized into four topical sections related to representations of the past—textual and conceptual approaches; material and emotional approaches; speculative and experiential approaches; and embodied methodologies—and covers a variety of temporal periods and geographical contexts. Reflecting on the methodological, theoretical, and ethical underpinnings of writing history creatively or speculatively, the essays situate themselves within current debates over epistemology and interdisciplinarity. They yield new insights into historical research methods, including archival investigations and source criticisms, while offering readers tangible examples of how to do history differently.

    Introduction: Methods of Knowing

    Kevin A. Morrison and Pälvi Rantala

    Section One: Textual and Conceptual Approaches

    1. Epic Posturing and Epic Entanglements: Historiography, Creative Inquiry, and the Writing of the Self in Boiardo, Montaigne, and Cervantes

    Alani Hicks-Bartlett

    2. "The Machine for Showing Desire": Desert Romance Fiction and Knowing Sexual Desire

    Catherine Phipps

    3. Entwining Temporalities in Craig Williamson’s The Complete Old English Poems

    Elan Justice Pavlinich

    Section Two: Material and Emotional Approaches

    4. Filling in the Blanks: An Open Door Invitation to a Nineteenth-Century American Period Room

    Kate Kramer

    5. Scraps of History: Vernacular Archiving and Creative Composition

    Ben Nadler

    6. Tolkien, Cline, and the Quest for a Silmaril

    Tom Ue and James Munday

    Section Three: Experiential Approaches

    7. Dreams, Historical Knowledge, and Death of a California Fisherwoman

    Kevin A. Morrison

    8. All Cops are Biased: Historiography as Detective Story

    William G. Pooley

    9. Sound Puppets: Using Sonic Nonfiction to Perform the Past

    Diana Chester and Heidi Stalla

    Section Four: Embodied Methodologies

    10. Co-Imagining the History of a Village: Autoethnographer as Verbaliser of Experience-Based Knowledge

    Jaana Kouri

    11. My Writing Journey with the Webers

    Pälvi Rantala

    13. Knowing Hands: Using Tactile Research Methods in Researching and Writing the History of Design

    Grace Lees-Maffei


    Kevin A. Morrison is Provincial Chair Professor, University Distinguished Professor, and Professor of British Literature in the School of Foreign Languages at Henan University. He is the author of four monographs, including the MLA-award winning Victorian Liberalism and Material Culture: Synergies of Thought and Place, and, most recently, The Provincial Fiction of Mitford, Gaskell, and Eliot.

    Pälvi Rantala is a Finnish researcher and nonfiction writer. She holds a docentship in cultural history at the University of Turku and works in the intersecting fields of history, sociology and cultural studies. Her research projects have combined arts, culture and social science as well as historical knowledge, and she currently works on the cultural history of sleeplessness.