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Fortunes of History

Fortunes of History: Historical Inquiry from Herder to Huizinga

Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 448
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  • Book Info
    Fortunes of History
    Book Description:

    InFortunes of HistoryDonald R. Kelley offers an authoritative examination of historical writing during the "long nineteenth century"-the years from the French Revolution to those just after the First World War. He provides a comprehensive analysis of the theories and practices of British, French, German, Italian, and American schools of historical thought, their principal figures, and their distinctive methods and self-understandings.Kelley treats the modern traditions of European world and national historiography from the Enlightenment to the "new histories" of the twentieth century, attending not only to major authors and schools but also to methods, scholarship, criticisms, controversies, ideological questions, and relations to other disciplines.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12829-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Enlightened History
    (pp. 1-25)

    The Enlightenment was an age of history as well as philosophy. This fact has not always been clear from classic studies of the eighteenth century. Paul Hazard began the first of his two volumes on the “crisis of European consciousness” with an analysis of historical pyrrhonism but then launched into a grand narrative featuring heterodoxy, deism, the “war against tradition,” natural law, the achievements of science, and Enlightened “philosophy” in its peculiar French sense.¹ Carl Becker celebrated the “new history” of the Enlightenment but identified it mainly with the old story of “philosophy teaching by example” and the new (or,...

  5. 2 History between Research and Reason
    (pp. 26-55)

    French scholars took a quite different view of enlightenment (lumière, singular or plural). Theirs was more detached from religious concerns and closer to rationalism in the style of Descartes and Condillac, though with a later injection of Baconian, Newtonian, and Lockean ideas. They were also more confident of their cultural superiority, in keeping with thepetitio principiithat served as the prize topic set by the Academy of Berlin in 1777: “What has made the French language universal?”¹ Certainly French historians were more impressed with the arguments of skepticism, more excited by the old quarrel of ancients and moderns, and...

  6. 3 Expanding Horizons
    (pp. 56-80)

    Universal history had been an important part of the inventory of historical writing since antiquity — Polybius if not Herodotus — but this universality had always been Mediterraneo-or Eurocentric. The situation changed with the discovery of the New World, though the novelties in this hemisphere were at first also seen through European eyes and prejudices. It soon became evident, however, that the marvels and curiosities of the New World did not fit easily into the parochial categories of the West, whence the heterological impulse that accepted the facts of difference and the challenge of the “Other” — a historically and ethnographically concrete expression...

  7. 4 British Initiatives
    (pp. 81-111)

    David Hume described the highest aim of historical study in this way: “to see all human race, from the beginning of time, pass, as it were, in review before us; appearing in their true colours, without any of those disguises, which during their life-time, so much perplexed the judgment of the beholders.”¹ Yet in the wake of the explosion of scholarship since the age of erudition, how could modern scholars manage such a Herculean task? As Hume’s friend William Robertson put it, “The universal progress of science during the last two centuries, the art of printing, and other obvious causes...

  8. 5 German Impulses
    (pp. 112-140)

    Not even philosophy outshone history in early nineteenth-century Germany. “Without a knowledge of the mighty past,” declared Friedrich Schlegel in 1810, “the philosophy of life . . . will never be able to carry us beyond the limits of the present, out of the narrow circle of our customs and immediate associations.”¹ He continued: “It is the great merit of our age to have renovated the study of history and to have cultivated it with extraordinary zeal. The English had the honour of leading the way in this noble career. The Germans have followed them with success.” The upshot in...

  9. 6 French Novelties
    (pp. 141-172)

    Born in the revolutionary period, coming of age in the Empire, and entering the public sphere with the return of the Bourbons, the “generation of 1820” was exposed to extremes of political and social change, and so was drawn to the study of history in order to understand these shattering experiences.¹ This was the basis of what Renan called “the revolution which since 1820 has completely changed the face of historical studies, or rather has founded history among us.”² The leaders of this revolution included especially Guizot, Thierry, Mignet, Barante, and Michelet, whose work in the 1820s opened a “new...

  10. 7 German Ascendancy
    (pp. 173-197)

    Like ancient and medieval philosophers, historians in nineteenth-century Germany were divided, by themselves and others, into various “schools,” according to different professorial followings, universities, regions, religions, politics, philosophies, and methods. Catholic and Protestant, Austrian and Prussian,grossdeutschandkleindeutsch,empirical and conjectural historians all cultivated the common ground of a national past — “the world-historical development of our people,” in the words of Heinrich Luden — but they quarreled over this legacy in general and in detail. What were the origins, provenance, positive forces, underlying continuities, social bases and structures, political leadership, institutional and legal traditions, and cultural achievements as well as...

  11. 8 French Visions
    (pp. 198-224)

    During the Second Empire and the Third Republic French historiography became increasingly involved with the state, which was not only its chief subject but also its main supporter and guide.¹ Though some were still statesmen, historians were for the most part no longer men of letters, critics, or journalists; they were pedagogues and professors, with responsibilities toward their political patron. They criticized their predecessors and one another, but they approached the political heritage of their nation with respect and veneration. They might indeed pass moral judgments on individual kings and public figures but not, for the most part, on the...

  12. 9 English Observances
    (pp. 225-253)

    In late-nineteenth-century England there was, after Macaulay (b. 1800) and Thomas Arnold (b. 1795), a generation, almost a cohort, of historians devoted to the national history. Situated between amateur and professional historical practice, these scholars were in most cases refugees from a religious vocation; and yet they were, even when estranged from Christian doctrine, deeply concerned with the role of faith, morality, and ecclesiastical institutions in history. They were also involved in journalism and polemic and in the teaching of history, especially on the university level, for future statesmen as well as professional scholars. Many of them were themselves active...

  13. 10 Beyond the Canon
    (pp. 254-279)

    For access to the deep past scholars had usually been restricted either to philological and etymological speculation or to analogies with savage cultures of modern times. Even Kant acknowledged that “one of the ways of extending the range of anthropology istraveling,or at least reading travelogues.”¹ And as the Baron Degérando wrote, “We shall in a way be taken back to the first periods of our own history. . . . The philosophic sailing to the ends of the earth, is in fact traveling in time. Those unknown islands are for him the cradle of human society.”² Philology promised...

  14. 11 American Parallels
    (pp. 280-303)

    How did the New World fit into the prehistorical perspective that was emerging in the nineteenth century? The discoveries of Columbus and his followers and the imperial extensions of the Conquistadores were incorporated without much difficulty into the “universal histories” of European tradition, although at first the political and cultural categories of the colonial intruders were imposed indiscriminately on the original inhabitants.¹ The old theme of the Four World Monarchies was replaced by the modern succession of Empires — Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and American — as a way of periodizing the grand narrative of Western history; and historians of all of...

  15. 12 New Histories
    (pp. 304-338)

    The idea of a “new history” was at least four hundred years old when it was reinvented at the end of the nineteenth century.¹ It rebegan with the attack of Georg von Below in 1898 on Karl Lamprecht, for his presumptuous and subversive “new method of history,” a charge which was given a favorable spin in an article in theAmerican Historical Reviewthat same year praising “the new history,” and so the phrase passed into American usage, to be taken up later by James Harvey Robinson.² Lamprecht’s new history was actually a continuation of the old tradition of cultural...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 339-346)

    Claims of novelty and the rhetoric of innovation grew ever more insistent in the age of modernism, with “new histories” appearing in Germany, France, and the United States; and indeed this habit has persisted down to the present. History has ever to be rewritten and the errors of our elders not only corrected but edited out of our stories. What is old must be revered and studied, but out-of-date historiography must be replaced, or anyway historicized, into conceptual irrelevance — unless it is vouchsafed classic status. The old name for this was progress; the newer name is revisionism, and we are...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 347-410)
  18. Index
    (pp. 411-426)