What Was History (2010) Stage 3Presentation Transcript
What was History? Histories and the Cultural Turn Neil Mulholland
This lecture will introduce two key methodological issues that will be raised frequently in the Brief History of Stuff elective:
Histories: Metahistory and People’s Histories
The Cultural Turn
Hayden White - Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973).
Literary readings of historical texts / History writing is a form of literature.
The historiography of every period is defined by a trope specific to its time and place.
Roland Barthes ‘The Discourse of History“ (1967) Barthes applying concepts of structural linguistics to historical narrative: “ Does the narration of past events, which, in our culture from the time of the Greeks onwards, has generally been subject to the sanction of historical 'science', bound to the unbending standard of the 'real', and justified by the principles of 'rational' exposition - does this form of narration really differ, in some specific trait, in some indubitably distinctive feature, from imaginary narration, as we find it in the epic, the novel, and the drama? And if this trait or feature exists, then in what level of the historical statement must it be placed?” In this sense, he has much in common with Hayden White who also saw History primarily as a form of narrative discourse.
Michel de Certeau The Writing of History (1975)
Freudian reading of History writing in relation to the Uncanny –
In western histories the past explains the present.
In psychoanalysis, the past haunts the patient, its is a phantom in the present.
Hence, the past is read as an unstable or impossible reflection of death which de Certeau describes ambiguously as a “ strange familiarity” or “familiar strangeness”.
Michel de Certeau The Writing of History (1975)
Rather than manage events, Certeau argues that historiography should speak with the dead by adopting a psychoanalytic approach.
de Certeau argues that written history’s manageable past is at the cost of a massive exclusion of popular and oral forms of culture that did not fit the rationalist framework.
Wings of Desire (1987)
Dir. Wim Wenders
Examines the writing of post-traumatic histories.
How do we write about the Holocaust?
How does memory effect our recollection of such traumatic events in history?
Against-Metahistory Many historians, such as Richard Evans, dislike the disregard of how historical facts limit what the historian might wish to say about the past. Metahistorians use narratives to assess other narratives. How can we tell which story is worth following? Is there, as Richard Evans suggests, a link between postmodernist theory and Holocaust denial?
Examines historical events from the perspective of the ‘common’ people: the disenfranchized, oppressed, poor, non-conformist, or otherwise forgotten, as opposed to that of the power structure. e.g.s of Peoples’ Histories:
A History of Racism, 800BC-Today
Radical Puppetry - 17 th -today.
Revolutionary Song in France, 1789-1989
The Radical History of Aussie Rules Football
Skinhead Culture, 1960-Today
Italians in Northern Ireland
Casalattico is home to many Italians in N.Ireland
In de Certeau’s psychoanalytic terms, People’s History is the return of the repressed .
Often local histories, or micro-histories emerge from communities themselves.
Are potentially limitless - leads to proliferation of histories, debates and alternative voices.
Archival aspect is useful for alternative visual and oral forms of education.
Co-Op The co-operative movement that flourishes all over the world today was started in 1844 with a shop in Rochdale by 28 men, known as the Rochdale Pioneers. The stores popularity led to shops being set up throughout the country. The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) was established to supply these shops in 1863 and by 1873 the first Co-operative factory was operating in Crumpsall. Co-op customers were members of the society and so, for every penny they spent they received an appropriate number of dividend "checks" or tokens (the "divi"). These were saved up and at certain times could be exchanged for money.
Football Football became a professional game in the 1880s with players being paid a wage. Attempts were soon made to form a union and in 1907 the Players Union was formed. Although the football authorities were initially hostile to the union, by the 1930s was seen as a positive influence on the game. Now known as the Professional Footballers Association (the PFA), the union has an important role helping players plan their future, and has been involved in saving small clubs from financial ruin. Find out more about the game and its player and watch clips from matches as early as 1889.
The People's Palace is Glasgow's social history museum and a chance to see the story of the people and city of Glasgow from 1750 to the present. There is: dancing and holidaying; home life during the Second World War; and a trip to the steamie to get the clothes washed. Visit the 'single end' and discover how a family lived in this typical one-room Glasgow tenement family home of the 1930s. See the amazing banana boots worn by Billy Connolly on stage in the 1970s.
Fredric Jameson , The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern 1983-1998. Verso, 1998 Argues that there is a predeliction for nostalgia and the flight from history in culture since the early 80s. This closes off of alternatives to capitalism through a fixation on the "perpetual present."
2. Cultural Turns Ways of representing and researching that emphasise the determining role of culture in any given situation or discipline.
‘ THE CULTURAL TURN’
The belief that culture powerfully shapes human histories (cultural determinism).
The idea that key aspects of life can best be understood by exploring the fundamental beliefs and assumptions of a culture (e.g. its music, language, visual art, etc.)
The idea that scholars and practitioners of all disciplines should examine the cultural implications (the meaning ) and assumptions of their practice.
Discursive Psychology contends that, instead of looking at inherent or invariant human reactions, scholars should probe how different cultures generate quite different psychological reactions.
History of Medicine / History of Emotion
Which of the following are medical conditions; which are ‘emotions’?