HST287: Class notes, 16-Sept.-2004

Just a few random thoughts, remembered quotes, and reactions:

Colin recapped Collingwood's Epilegomena.

Comment: "Since we are reading him today he must have done something right."
I wonder: Would Collingwood agree? Would he say 21st century people recognize the truth in his work or have we found his works suits our current notions abd so we adopt them? Has this work been compiled/republished because it is "good historiography" or have those bits of his writing that better match our own presuppositions about historiography become the ones that are published while other writings of his that do not match so well are not.

Human nature, the inside/outside concept. Someone remarks that Collingwood is hung up in natural sciences.
Yes. This is the milieu he is working in so he reacts to it. "Every new generation must re-write history (and historiography?) in its own image.

On the board: clarifying materialism and idealism
- naturalism/materialism: I am who I am because of where I was raised, shaped by my environment (nurture)
- idealism: there is an ideal called "Man" (Platonic) and I am who I am because I have traits in common with that ideal (sounds like transcendentalists and language)

Or a third way, for historians: you are going to be biased but you can at least try to overcome that bias by being aware of it. (Bogac: A materialist will say "you can't overcome this, you can only be aware of it)

David? Why do we wish to claim that history repeats itself?
(It would be interesting to see when this trope was accepted as true. Does history really repeat itself or do some eras/cultures just sometimes believe that it does? If it's not seen as true by all times/all people, what times/people do see it as true and why?)

What is the difference between history and fiction?

I took this crack at it in the questions section:
2) The question came up last time: What distinguishes history from fiction (myth?), that is, how do we know which is which? Burke addresses the fluidity of the border between the two, as well as suggesting that "we should be discussing. . .the compatibility or conflict between [the criteria used to define history and fiction] and different forms of text or rhetoric" (p. 129).  I'd like to enlarge the latter to include that there are differences in authorial intent and authorial practice.

The writer of fiction, while he or she may provide elements of verisimilitude, provides the story alone, usually adhering to an accepted form or forms of narrative recognizable as one of the standard fictional genres.  The historian also writes according to recognised formulas, and provides footnotes. Footnotes are the historians bargain with the reader, asking for the reader's trust and supplying reasons for that trust. Of course (!) the author can also betray the reader's trust by subverting these tools. (ex. Sokal/Social Text, as well as the classic "Felines and Bearded Men" study)

hope.greenberg@uvm.edu, created/updated 16-Sept-2004/1-Oct-2004
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