HST287: Class notes, 23-Sept.-2004

Still not comprehensive notes--too much fun just listening!

Kerry recapped Burke's History of Social Theory

Did we like the book? About half and half. Too much like a dictionary, too boring. Quite a few liked Collingwood better. That was a surprise.

 - how do we account for continuity
 - how do we account for change
 - if we can understand change can we develop a methodology for applying it

Is Burke making a mistake by separateing structuralists and functionalists? (functionalist: organs, structuralists: the connectors)

Post-modernism: reaction to monolithic belief
Post-structuralists: Sausseur - language as a structure - certain entities serve a function - components do not necessarily serve a function - they can be manipulated: people imagine, create, improvise. Culture is not a set structure. We create/re-create it all the time.
Structure: questions have an answer
Post-structure: concerned about how entities can be used in contradictory ways. slaves obey but are "slothful", quiet rebellions
reading against the grain, reading between the lines

Post-modern: refers to the ers 1960s/70s (and the architecture)
Post-structuralists: refers to the methodology

There are no post-modern/post-structuralist historians - only critics. They do not try to replace the model they criticize. Main critique: "They don't produce anything!"

More interested in why structuralists need to see a structure. For a model? For comfort?

Questions in abbreviated form:

Craig: Are all historians biased?
Robert: How is it possible to give weight to quantitative evidence when the possibilities for its misuse or flaws are so great?
Colin: Theory - we can suggest new questions. Will an eclectic approach produce better history for here and now?
Bogac: Why do we need theory?
(We need it to help us answer the question "How do we know what we know?")
John: How do all the theoretical constructs deal with the elephant in the next room? (modern brain science??)
Bogac: "My object [in writing/doing history] is not to find the truth. It is to make a coherent argument, to incorporate the work of other historians."

hope.greenberg@uvm.edu, created/updated: 23-Sept-2004/1-Oct-2004
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