Remaking History: The Past in Contemporary Historical Fictions, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Remaking History

The Past in Contemporary Historical Fictions, 1st Edition

By Jerome De Groot


232 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

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Remaking History considers the ways that historical fictions of all kinds enable a complex engagement with the past. Popular historical texts including films, television and novels, along with cultural phenomena such as superheroes and vampires, broker relationships to ‘history’, while also enabling audiences to understand the ways in which the past is written, structured and ordered.

Jerome de Groot uses examples from contemporary popular culture to show the relationship between fiction and history in two key ways. Firstly, the texts pedagogically contribute to the historical imaginary and secondly they allow reflection upon how the past is constructed as ‘history’. In doing so, they provide an accessible and engaging means to critique, conceptualize and reject the processes of historical representation. The book looks at the use of the past in fiction from sources including Mad Men, Downton Abbey and Howard Brenton’s Anne Boleyn, along with the work of directors such as Terence Malick, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, to show that fictional representations enable a comprehension of the fundamental strangeness of the past and the ways in which this foreign, exotic other is constructed.

Drawing from popular films, novels and TV series of recent years, and engaging with key thinkers from Marx to Derrida, Remaking History is a must for all students interested in the meaning that history has for fiction, and vice versa.


"Jerome De Groot, who in two previous volumes has done pioneering work on the impact of historical "fictions" on our sense and understanding of the past, carries his brilliant and expansive arguments into brave new realms, from that of Hilary Mantel, to TV’s Mad Men, to night worlds of popular vampire fictions. A must read for anyone interested in what the author rightly calls "new historic encounters, new modes of pastness, a new historicity."

- Robert A Rosenstone, Professor Emeritus of History, California Institute of Technology, USA

"Around the complex, deep entanglements of the historical and the fictional a rich body of commentary has gathered. Jerome de Groot's decisive contribution to this follows from the ambitiously diverse scope of his reference points and his sheer critical acuity in exploring the ways in which 'the past' is both produced by, and feeds, imaginings."

- John Corner, University of Leeds, UK

"In this wide-ranging study, De Groot (English, Univ. of Manchester, UK) argues that historical fiction has an "uncanny" relationship to the past; that is, it is a genre that makes history simultaneously familiar and alien. Not confining his analysis to novels, De Groot also examines English-language film and television programs (Downton Abbey, Mad Men) to demonstrate how contemporary historical fiction is itself a form of historiography… this is an important contribution to historical fiction studies."

- L. R. Braunstein, Dartmouth College, CHOICE Reviews

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgements Permissions Introduction: Perverting History Section One: Ethics, Politics, and Nationalism Chapter One: Reading and Ethics Chapter 2: Challenging national histories Section Two: Haunting, Ghostliness, and the Undead Chapter Three: The materiality of the past Chapter Four: The problem of Time and the return of the Dead Section Three: Pleasure, Affect, and Performance Chapter Five: Pleasure and desire Chapter 6: Performance and Affect Conclusions

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Historiography
HISTORY / Modern / General
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 18th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 21st Century
HISTORY / Modern / 16th Century
HISTORY / Social History