The SAGE Handbook of Historical Theory
- Nancy Partner - McGill University, Canada
- Sarah Foot - University of Oxford, UK
The editors introduce the core areas of current debate within historical theory, bringing the reader as up to date with continuing debates and current developments as is possible. The book is divided into three parts, covering:
- Part I. Foundations: The Theoretical Grounds for Knowledge of the Past
- Part II. Applications: Theory-Intensive Areas in History
- Part III. Coda. Post-Postmodernism: Directions and Interrogations
This important handbook brings together in one volume discussions of the role of modernity, empiricism, realism, post-modernity and deconstruction in the historian's craft. Chapters are written by leading writers from around the world and cover a wide spread of historical sub-disciplines, such as social history, intellectual history, narrative, gender, memory, psycho-analysis and cultural studies, taking in, along the way, the work of thinkers such as Paul Ricouer, Michel Foucault and Hayden White.
The Sage Handbook of Historical Theory is an essential resource for practicing historians, and students of history, and will appeal to scholars in related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities who seek a closer understanding of the theoretical foundations of history.
This compendium of new essays on theory of history (rather than history's theory) is the very model of what a scientific handbook (an honorable scholarly genre which has been much degraded of late by commercialization) ought to be. The problems which motivated the interest in theory of history from the 1930s and 40s down to just yesterday have now been pretty much assimilated to a new lingua franca of metahistorical discourse. A new generation of scholars can now treat as what goes without saying many of the "undecidables" of the older generations' discourses. The essays display an openness to innovation and manifest a kind of authority which stand above both polemics and apologetics.
All of the relevant topics, themes, debates, methodological issues, and images of the "theory wars" are taken account of--I counted twenty-six such, from "linguistic turn" through "gender" and "postcolonial" to "fiction" and "causality"-- even-handedly, insightfully, and responsibly. The documentation is impressive, the footnotes pertinent, full, and informative, the bibliographies comprehensive. The whole bears the imprint of the scholarly styles of its editors, Professors Partner and Foot. Anyone who knows their scholarship will expect nothing but the highest standards brought to anything they study. I was most impressed by the way in which the essays taken as a whole extend the field of historical studies to include all of the other disciplines in the human, social, and natural sciences which take "the past" and not only "history" as objects of study. This is an indispensable Handbook for anyone who has a professional or even an "amateur" interest in the study of the past.
University Professor, Emeritus, of the History of Consciousness, in the University of California and Sometime Consultant Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies, Stanford University
The editors have assembled a large and outstanding group of historians and other theorists who examine and represent theories of historical knowledge from every angle. The collection is comprehensive, scholarly, and full of new insights.
Professor Emeritus, Emory University
The challenges of the use of theory in history is analysed and interrogated in significant and exciting ways in this work. In drawing on the insights of leading scholars, this indispensible volume broadens the parameters of our investigation of the past and deepens our interpretation and understanding of historical knowledge.
Professor of History, University of Melbourne
Nancy Partner and Sarah Foot have brought together a comprehensive and up-to-date collection of essays on historical theory. The special feature is that more than half the contributions are written by working historians with their feet on the ground. The book will be invaluable both to students of historiography and seasoned practitioners.
Professor of History, University of Roehampton
This is an important overview and critical analysis of the present state of history writing. Starting with history's modernist foundations in the 19th century, the Handbook succinctly explains how the rise of postmodernism has brought about our present-day post-postmodernist predicament with its broad variety of historical genres.
Professor of German Historical Culture and Historical Theory, VU University Amsterdam and Amsterdam University College
This is almost certainly the most thorough and informative compendium of historical theory and philosophy of history available on the market today. It is to be recommended without qualification to all serious students of philosophy of history, including those who think they already know something about the subject (they will soon discover, like me, that they have a lot to learn). Containing 29 articles or chapters, all written by experts in the field, it covers subjects as diverse as empiricism, the historical imagination, narrative history, feminist history, the history of sexuality, cultural studies, memory, post-colonial theory, historical experience, and the works of Collingwood, Hayden White, Derrida and Foucault.
The Sage Handbook of Historical Theory offers us 29 article-length essays on a wide variety of topics written by recognized and respected experts. Most are historians reflecting on their own work and practices, or those of others. They tell us about methods (empirical, scientific, psychoanalytic, digital), schools (The Historical School, Annales), lots of individuals (Collingwood,Hayden White, Derrida, Foucault), applications (social history, gender history). I found these essays satisfying, informative, and, in cases where I was pretty familiar with the subject, quite reliable. This is the sort of book that can be consulted by the scholar again and again as needs and questions arise. To be sure, topics may arise that are not covered here (I thought of Social Darwinism, and environmental history), but the editors of such a collection must be selective and obviously cannot cover everything.