1st Edition

Key Metaphors for History Mirrors of Time

By Javier Fernández-Sebastián Copyright 2024
    350 Pages 24 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book casts a fresh look at what to date has been a relatively unexplored question: the enormous value and usefulness of the metaphor in the understanding and writing of history (and at the historical culture reflected by these metaphors). Mapping a wide range of tropes present in historiography and public discourse, the book identifies some of the key metaphorical resources employed by historians, politicians, and journalists to represent time, history, memory, the past, the present, and the future and examines a selection of analytical concepts of a temporal nature, built upon unmistakeably metaphorical foundations, such as modernity, event, process, revolution, crisis, progress, decline, or transition.

    The analysis of these and other pillars on which modern history has been built, whether as a philosophy of history, as an academic discipline, or as a set of events, will interest graduates and scholars dealing with the historical and social sciences and the humanities in general.

    Key Metaphors for History offers a broad overview of historiography and historiosophy, from an unfrequented point of view, halfway between conceptual history, theory of history and metaphorology. Moreover, it constitutes a form of self-reflection of the historian on his or her own positionality when researching and writing history.

    Introduction. The power of metaphors


    1.      Metaphors

    2.      On historians and metaphors


    Part I. Conceptual metaphors for history


    Chapter 1. Metaphorizing history


    1.      Metaphors for history




    1.4.Masters and teachers

    2.      Clio transfigured

    2.1.Railways and trains

    2.2.History in motion

    2.3.Court of justice and dustbin

    3.      Countermetaphors

    4.      Turns, levels, professions, territories, borders


    Chapter 2. Time and memory


    1.      Memory of time / Time of memory

    2.      Clio, Chronos, and Kairos

    3.      Circles, lines, and points

    4.      Water, rivers, and seas

    5.      Atmospheres and thresholds

    6.      Levels, sediments, strata

    7.      Turbulent Times

    8.      A deluge of memory




    Chapter 3. Pasts, presents, and futures


    1.      The essential triad

    2.      Past and present

    2.1.A foreign country

    2.2.The living and the dead

    2.3.Distances and dimensions

    3.      Present and future

    3.1. Lights

    3.2. Seeds

    3.3. Horizons

    3.4. Shards



    Part II. Metaphorical concepts in historiography


    Chapter 4. Sources, events, processes


    1.      Sources and traces

    2.      Events and facts

    3.      Processes and structures



    Chapter 5. Modernity, crisis, revolution


    1.      Revolution

    2.      Crisis

    3.      Modernity

    3.1.   Revelation, discovery, disappointment

    3.2.    Action and mastery

    3.3.   Rationalization and secularization

    3.4.    A perennial gale

    3.5.    The pile of sand and the contract

    3.6.    Globalization and “Great Acceleration”

    3.7.    Perverse effects and counter-metaphors




    Chapter 6. Progress, decline, transition


    1.      Progress, advancement, development

    2.      Decadence and decline

    3.      Tradition and transition


    Chapter 7. Final thoughts






    Javier Fernández-Sebastián is Professor Emeritus at the University of the Basque Country. He has worked extensively on conceptual history and has recently been interested in the theory of history. His latest publications include: Historia conceptual en el Atlántico ibérico (2021), Metafóricas espacio-temporales para la historia (2021) and Tiempos de la historia, tiempos del derecho (2021).