Fiction of Narrative Essays on History, Literature, and Theory, 1957-2007

ISBN-10: 0801894808

ISBN-13: 9780801894800

Edition: 2010

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Description:

Hayden White is celebrated as one of the great minds in the humanities. Though perhaps best known for his tropological theory of discourse, White's theory of historical writing as narrativization is no less influential. Since the publication of his groundbreaking monograph, Metahistory, in 1973, White's work has been crucial to disciplines where narrative is of primary concern, including history, literary studies, anthropology, philosophy, art history, and film and media studies.This volume brings together twenty-three of White's previously uncollected essays written over a fifty-year period. These texts find White at his most essayistic, engaging a wide range of topics and thinkers with characteristic insight and elegance. Throughout his long career, from his earlier work on intellectual history and the philosophy of history to later essays dealing with poststructuralism and postmodernism, White has sought to reveal the essential relationship between history and theory.The Fiction of Narrative gathers in one place White's important -- and often hard-to-find -- essays exploring his revolutionary theories of historical writing and narrative. These works, deftly introduced by Robert Doran, trace the arc and evolution of White's field-defining thought and will become standard reading for students and scholars of historiography, the theory of history, and literary studies.Praise for Hayden White"No other historian appears to be at the frontier of so many developments or so skillful at integrating them into traditional American scholarship in the history of ideas." -- Journal of Modern History"White is a master of critical and provocative thought." -- H-Net Reviews"White has arguably changed the course of historiography in the past twenty years... Any serious historian will need to engage the issues and answers that White raises." -- Religious Studies Review"White lays out his arguments with a clarity and rigor that few can match." -- Choice
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Book details

List price: $30.00
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 4/14/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 400
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.320
Language: English

Educated at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, White currently holds a university professorship in the department of the History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. The author of many important books in the field of intellectual history, White is best-known for his work critiquing traditional historiography, which he has reconceptualized in the wake of structuralist and poststructuralist theory. In the nineteenth century, historians had begun to distance themselves from belles lettres by emulating a scientific model. By 1940, however, the scientific status of history was being questioned in some quarters. The French Annales School, for example, argued that histories were not scientific, objective, disinterested analysis and reportage but, rather, narratives constructed from an interested perspective, in which the selection and description of events, the constitution of causal networks, and even the delimiting of a temporal series by fixing beginning and end points for a process were all governed by ideology. It was possible, therefore, to have very different histories of the same time and place, depending on one's ideology---which might not even be held consciously (i.e., the historian might not be fully aware of the values and assumptions governing his or her writing). For those who accepted these notions, history began to look more like literature than social science. As such, it was subject to the same kind of rhetorical and narratological analyses that literature was, in addition to an ideological analysis. It was exactly this assumption that led to White's first and ground-breaking book on the narrative strategies of nineteenth-century history, Metahistory (1973). In it White draws on the work of structuralist narratologists, on Northrop Frye's proto-structuralist theory of archetypal literary modes, and on Kenneth Burke's theory of rhetorical figures to analyze the forms of various historical discourses and to link them with particular ideologies. He suggests that the plots of histories fall into one of four generic modes (romance, tragedy, comedy, or satire), each of which can be correlated with an ideological mode (anarchist, radical, conservative, or liberal), an argumentative mode (formist, mechanistic, organicist, or contextualist), and a tropological mode (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, or irony). According to White, these modes comprise the underlying "deep structure" of all histories, whose "surface structure" (the aesthetic, moral, and cognitive levels of plot, ideology, and explanation) is merely an arrangement of these more profound levels. White's later work in Tropics of Discourse (1978) and The Content of the Form (1987) further develops this poetics of historiography.

René Girard is the Andrew B. Hammond Professor Emeritus of French Civilization at Stanford University and a member of the Académie française. He is the author of over fifteen books, includingThings Hidden Since the Foundation of the World(Stanford, 1987), andOedipus Unbound: Selected Writings on Rivalry and Desire(Stanford, 2004). Robert Doran is Assistant Professor of French at Middlebury College.

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