In Defence of History: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

In Defence of History

1st Edition

By Nicholas Piercey, Tom Stammers

Macat Library

110 pages

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Description

Richard Evans wrote In Defence of History at a time when the historian's profession was coming under heavy attack as a result of the ‘cultural turn’ taken by the discipline during the late 1980s and the 1990s. Historians were being forced to face up to postmodern thinking, which argued that, because all texts were the product of biased writers who had incomplete information, none could be privileged above others. In this reading, there could be no objective history, merely the study of the texts themselves.

While In Defence of History addresses all aspects of historical method, its key focus is on an extensive evaluation of this postmodern thinking. Evans judges the acceptability of the reasoning advanced by the postmodernists – and finds it badly wanting. He is strongly critical both of the relevance and of the adequacy of their arguments, seeking to show that, ultimately, they are guilty of failing to accept the logic of their own position. All texts are equally valid, or invalid, they suggest – while insisting that the products of their own school are in fact more ‘true’ than those of their opponents. Evans concludes by pointing out that this same argument could be advanced to suggest that the works of Holocaust deniers are just as valid as are those of historians who accept that the Nazis set out to commit genocide. So why, he demands, is no postmodernist willing to say as much? A devastating example of the usefulness of relentless evaluation.

Table of Contents

Ways in to the text Who was Richard J Evans? What does In Defence of History say? Why does In Defence of History matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited

About the Authors

Dr Nicholas Piercey holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from University College, London. He is currently an Honorary Research Associate in UCL’s Department of Dutch in the UCL School of European Languages, Culture & Society.

Dr Thomas Stammers is lecturer in Modern European History at Durham University, where he specialises in the Cultural History of France in the Age of Revolution. He is the author of Collection, Recollection, Revolution: Scavenging the Past in Nineteenth-Century Paris. Dr Stammers’s research interests include a wide range of historiographical and theoretical controversies related to eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe.

About the Series

The Macat Library

Great Works for Critical Thinking

Making the ideas of the world’s great thinkers accessible, affordable, and comprehensible to everybody, everywhere. 

With a growing list of over 180 titles across a broad range of subject areas, Macat works with leading academics from the world’s top universities to produce new analyses that focus on the ideas and the impact of the most influential works ever written. By setting them in context – and looking at the influences that shaped their authors, as well as the responses they provoked – Macat encourages readers to look at these classics and game-changers with fresh eyes.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS000000
HISTORY / General