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  • WHAT WAS HISTORY?: HISTORIES AND THE CULTURAL TURN The discipline of history has come under great scrutiny in the past twenty five years. Major philosophers and historiographers have questioned the objectivity of the historian, asking difficult questions about the wisdom of separating facts from values. At the same time, the reproduction of histories that focus on grand themes such as empires and economics have been challenged by historians who focus on aspects of everyday culture, using them to examine wider issues in gender, ethnicity, class and ideology. Kenny Hunter ‘What is History?’ – Sculpture Jonathan Furmanski – The Perfect Break born 1972 Los Angeles studied Reed College, Art Center College of Design lives and works Los Angeles
  • This module seeks to explore the ‘cultural turn’ in history in a diverse series of lectures on the history of ‘stuff’, peoples and cultural phenomenon that historians might once have ignored or thought trivial. This lecture will introduce three key themes involved: ‘Metahistory’ ‘The Cultural Turn’ ‘Culturalism’ Postmodern Historiography was an attempt to examine the philosophy of history from a position of scepticism about historian’s claims towards objectivity and transparency: History's claims to objective knowledge have recently been critiqued by many who argue that facts cannot exist outside of the "prison house" of language.
  • 1. METAHISTORY Hayden White - Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973). Rejects causality in favour of literary readings of historical texts. White suggests that History writing is a form of literature; it could be said that it began as such. Historical narratives lay claim, both rhetorically and actually, to a validity of correspondence to the public processes of the real world. Thus the central reference of an historical work is the past about which it speaks, which is in some ways subverted as well as furthered by the mode of expression, historiography, that the writer has chosen. Does this therefore mean that History writing then can be said to be comparable to the production of other forms of narrative such as Holywood films, drama, fairy tales, The Communist manifesto, paintings by Renaissance artists? History is not fiction, yet it takes the same form as fiction. In Metahistory (1973), White argued that History writing reveals tropes – figures of style – , that underlying every historian's writing of history. The tropes of Historical narrative constitute meanings not reducible to the factual content they engage with. [There are many ways to express the same basic factual content.]A sense of Historical writing style is in its own right historically determined. The historiography of every period is defined by a trope specific to its time and place. For example in the Historiography of Thirteenth-Century France there is a tendency to Romancing the Past via the use of Vernacular Prose This could be seen as comparable to the literary trope of Courtly Love which was a popular genre of the era. White thus created a growing interest in the status of narrative itself and the presence of the authorial voice. He insisted that voice and the personal presence of the historian in the text was unavoidable. This is true also of non-literary models of narrative ‘history-telling’ such as museums and paintings or silent movies. White did not see tropes as incompatible with the historian's freedom in his actual writing of history. He placed himself within the ironic historiographical tradition, one that allowed certain elements of the absurd and of contradiction.
  • 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?” Broadly speaking, Barthes here was applying the concepts of structural linguistics to the particular conditions of 'utterance' which characterize the historical narrative. In this sense, he has much in common with Hayden White who also saw History primarily as a form of narrative discourse.
  • PRO- Michel de Certeau (1926-1986) de Certeau examines the West's changing conceptions of the very role and nature of history itself, de Certeau interprets historical practice as a function of mankind's feelings of loss, mourning, and absence. The Writing of History (1975) looks at the origins of Western history from Europe's first encounter with America to the West's desire to have the past function as a model meditating and explaining the present, and our sense of the past as a reflection of death irreducible to the present. Following Freud, he argues that there is a tension between familiarity and strangeness, the Same and the Other, which characterises the writing of histories. Freudian idea of the Uncanny – The past is as an unstable or impossible reflection of death which he describes ambiguously as a “strange familiarity” or “familiar strangeness”. In psychoanalysis, this past always uncannily appears in the present. It haunts the patient, taking the shape of a phantom. Traditional historiography looks at history as a set of manageable events, systems and discourses. The present is our subjectival now and on the other side of the wall lies the objectival past. Certeau argues that historiography should speak with the dead by adopting a psychoanalytic approach. Certeau analyses how written history has created a manageable past, at the cost of a massive exclusion of popular and oral forms of culture that did not fit the rationalist framework. Certeau, this cannot totally hush the disturbing and haunting voices of the other. The more you try to bury the dead, the harder they whisper. The factory of history suddenly has to face its industrial waste. In psychoanalytic terms, we could speak here of the return of the repressed. Underneath the familiar reality of the history of countries, kings and civilisations, there is an enormous reservoir of anonymous and other voices pushing and sometimes emerging at the surface of things.
  • Certeau argues that historiography should speak with the dead by adopting a psychoanalytic approach. Certeau analyses how written history has created a manageable past, at the cost of a massive exclusion of popular and oral forms of culture that did not fit the rationalist framework. Certeau, this cannot totally hush the disturbing and haunting voices of the other. The more you try to bury the dead, the harder they whisper. The factory of history suddenly has to face its industrial waste. In psychoanalytic terms, we could speak here of the return of the repressed. Underneath the familiar reality of the history of countries, kings and civilisations, there is an enormous reservoir of anonymous and other voices pushing and sometimes emerging at the surface of things.
  • DOMINICK LACAPRA. 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?
  • ANTI- Many historians dislike White's alledged cavalier disregard of how historical facts limit what the historian might wish to say about the past. If, as many historians and theorists now believe, narrative is the form proper to historical explanation, this raises the problem of the terms in which such narrative are to be evaluated. White uses narratives to assess other narratives (just as I am doing right now.) How can we tell which story is worth following? Without a clear account of evaluation, the status of historical knowledge obscure. Evans's analysis of the link between postmodernist theory and Holocaust denial is particularly insightful. The idea that no historical "theory" is more valid than another, combined with the American notion that both sides of any issue must receive "fair" play, brings Holocaust denial dangerously close to legitimacy.
  • PRO- Peoples’ History A people's history is a type of historical work which tries to look at 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. “Kings, queens and politicians don't shape the world, the actions and struggles of millions of people like us do. In text books and TV documentaries, the rich and powerful write history - but this is our version!” There is a greater focus on the Everyday and the idea, (Raymond Williams) that culture and therefore history is ordinary, within peoples’ history. e.g. of Peoples’ Histories: A History of Racism, 800BC-Today Radical Puppetry - 17th-today. Revolutionary Song in France, 1789-1989 The Radical History of Aussie Rules Football Skinhead Culture, 1960-Today Italians in Northern Ireland
  • Peoples’ Histories In de Certeau’s psychoanalytic terms, People’s History is the return of the repressed . Can be written by amateur historians or gathered as oral / folk histories from the ‘people’ themselves. Often local histories, or micro-histories emerge from communities themselves and are vanity or community published. This can be good (democratic / non-authoritarian) and bad (no quality control / limited knowledge / overly empirical method / ‘in-bred’ bias). Are potentially limitless - leads to proliferation of histories, debates and alternative voices. Archival aspect is useful for alternative visual and oral forms of education and education through material culture and museums.
  • ANTI- e.g 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."
  • 3. CULTURALISM WAYS OF REPRESENTING AND RESEARCHING THE PAST:
  • 2. ‘THE CULTURAL TURN’ [known sometimes within art and design as the ‘linguistic turn’] The belief that culture powerfully shapes human histories. 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 or visual art) The idea that scholars and practicioners of all disciplines should examine the cultural implications and assumptions of their practice. The cultural turn describes developments in cultural studies and the sociology of culture. It describes a shift in emphasis towards meaning. Whereas the central preoccupation of critical social analysis has traditionally been the way in which economic rationality dominates culture, contemporary social theory has been increasingly concerned with the central role of cultural processes and institutions in organising and controlling the economic. The claim is that the economy itself, and the ‘things’ that follow through it, is now largely constituted through informational and symbolic processes. Across the humanities and the social sciences, disciplinary boundaries have come into question as scholars have acknowledged their common preoccupations with cultural phenomena ranging from rituals and ceremonies to texts and discourse. Literary critics, for example, have turned to history for a deepening of their notion of cultural products; some of them now read historical documents in the same way that they previously read "great" texts.
  • We can detect crossovers between ‘culturally turned’ discplines and mircohistories e.g. Discursive Psychology. contends that, instead of looking at inherent or invariant human reactions, scholars should probe how different cultures generate quite different psychological reactions. Discursive psychological studies highlight the way people construct versions of 'mental', 'social' and 'material' events as narratives. These narratives are often competing or conflicting. In doing so discursive psychology challenges forces within mainstream psychology that help sustain unjust political, economic, and other societal structures. This calls for a kind of eclectic therapy, not one settled on one set of rules as a universal guide. As Jean Francois Lyotard puts it: Postmodern knowledge is not simply a tool of the authorities; it refines our sensitivity to differences and reinforces our ability to tolerate the incommensurable. Lyotard, 1984, The Postmodern Condition, xxv Lyotard is suspicious about grand narratives or theories that pertain to explain everything, instead he proposes what he calles a 'paralogy'. Paralogy is the kind of conversation that helps us navigate a situation without having a rule book. So rather than stick to the idea that `scientific' psychology must rely on an experimental methodology, discursive psychology places emphasis on discourse and difference. This open ended approach is backed up by culturalist approaches to new histories of psychology:
  • e.g. History of Medicine and Emotion: (Medicalization and Demedicalization) GRIEF Various approaches to the history of emotion have shown how basic formulations have altered, with significant implications for the ways that emotions are handled by society and experienced individually. Indulgence in grief in 19th-century America turned, by the 1920s, into aversion, so much so that deep feeling denoted a need for therapy. [engendered? What is the difference in experiencing grief for men and for a women?] ANOREXIA Many diseases, as well, have at least partially been explained through cultural construction. Work on the emergence of modern anorexia nervosa has shown how changing beliefs about mother-daughter bonds promoted new forms of rebellion around food as a cherished family symbol, with new standards of beauty supplementing those reactions. NOSTALGIA Originally coined in 1678 by Jean-Jacques Harder (1656-1711), Swiss physician, Nostalgia was used to refer to "the pain a sick person feels because he is not in his native land, or fears never to see it again". This neologism was so successful that people forgot its origin. Moreover, its original meaning--referring to a serious medical disorder--has been lost as the word nostalgia entered everyday language. During the period, from the late seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century, that doctors diagnosed and treated nostalgia. Cases resulting in death were known and soldiers were sometimes successfully treated by being discharged and sent home. By the 1850s nostalgia was losing its status as a particular disease and coming to be seen rather as a symptom or stage of a pathological process. The phenomenon of nostalgia did not disappear with its demedicalization. Nostalgia is now more commonly referred to not as a medical condition or a field of study, but as a feeling that any normal person can have. Nostalgia can often be associated with a fond childhood memory, a certain game or a treasured personal object. BOREDOM A brilliant 1995 literary study, by Patricia Ann Meyer Spacks, Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind, first showed how awareness of boredom, including the term itself, emerged as part of Western modernity. Now, we can also trace the change from using boredom as a warning to potential perpetrators, as part of the constraints of etiquette, to emphasizing the capacity to claim boredom as a legitimate complaint, even, or perhaps particularly, among children.

What Was History (2010) Stage 3 What Was History (2010) Stage 3 Presentation 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
    • METAHISTORY
    • 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
    • Dominick LaCapra
    • 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?
    • Peoples’ Histories
    • 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
    • Peoples’ Histories
    • 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’?
            • Grief
            • Anorexia
            • Nostalgia
            • Boredom