Dissertation > History, geography > Historical Theory > Historical research > History of writing

On the Post-modern Historiography of Hayden White

Author TianXingBin
Tutor ZhouXiaoZuo
School Shandong University
Course Historical Theory and History
Keywords post-modern historiography narrative ideology the linguistic turn
CLC K062
Type Master's thesis
Year 2008
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The dissertation is attempting to study the post-modern historiography of Hayden White. The text focuses on the following clues: first, describing academic context of the western historiography in the 20th century; and then interpreting the concept of Hayden White, especial the concept of history as narrative; finally, studying the thoughts of the western post-modern history and comparing with its contributions and blunders.In order to interpret and criticize the post-modern historiography of Hayden White, we should first understand the origins of the White’s concept which derives from his interests in the discipline nature of "history". White realizes that some similarities between history and literature and integrates them to study which forms an unprecedented interdisciplinary research in historiography. It bridges the gap between history and literature which has been normally considered an insurmountable discipline boundary. The context of the White’s post-modern historiography, such as history philosophy and the end of the grant narrative, is reviewed in the dissertation.For the sake of understanding the White’s post-modern historiography, thedissertation interprets the White’s concept of history as narrative. The dissertation isthreefold: 1) The problems of the "narrative" in the history. White points out that thehistorical narrative can be realized its own distinctive quality by comparing historyand literature. He defines the historical work as a verbal structure in the form of anarrative prose discourse which is neither the product of the theories nor the basementof the method. The quantity and the function of a certain historical work would bechanged depending on the purpose or the means. After emphasizing the importance ofthe narrative for historiography, White further clarifies the arguments about narrativein the historical and philosophical circles in the 20 century, and then analyzes andcriticizes them. 2) History texts as literary artifact. White states history texts itself isan imitation of literature. He points out history as narrative has its own property incontrasting "history", "science" and "literature". Historical narratives are not onlyabout past facts or events, but also about implications. All historical explanations arerhetorical and poetic by nature. Therefore, the traditional differences between poetics and prose should be revised while discussing history as narrative. 3) Historical explanation and ideology. White regards that historian writing should represent some ideology. He points out that historians make wide implications by arranging events in a certain order which is quite similar in literature. The dissertation criticizes White’s ideology after contrasting North’s and Marx’s ideology.The value and the status of Hayden White’s historiography can be apprehended from the turning of the western history. The post-modern historiography turning is originated from "the linguistic turning", which is, meanwhile, named as "the narrative turn" or "the rhetoric turn". White focuses his attention on the study of history as narrative, thereafter he becomes a representative of the post-modern western historiography in 20 century.

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