Get Cultural History and Postmodernity PDF

By Mark Poster

ISBN-10: 0231108834

ISBN-13: 9780231108836

Poster charts the flow from social background to new practices of cultural historical past which are drawing energy from poststructuralist interpretive recommendations and elevating concerns present in feminist and postcolonial discourse. He presents shut readings of Lawrence Stone; Fran?ois Furet, Michel de Certeau and Michel Foucault.

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Additional info for Cultural History and Postmodernity

Sample text

Yet a closer look at the work of Derrida, Foucault, and the other so-called postmodernists quickly reveals that they begin by rejecting the totalizing claims of structuralism and they do so, for one reason, precisely because such totalization (reduction of reality to language) installs the structuralist as capable of objective knowledge. Ironically, the historian and the structuralist are in agreement about the certainty of the truth, one seeing it as an attribute of reality, the other as an attribute of language.

Hence the quizzical looks exchanged among many historians when a stray intellectual historian defines historical methodology as a strategy of reading texts. Poststructuralist theories, on the other hand, are designed for the analysis of language; they begin to lose their capacity to display the world as intelligible to the degree that issues of action are at stake. This is a source of both their limitations and their strengths. My hypothesis is that the poststructuralist emphasis on language over action is concurrent with, though not reducible to, a similar change of priorities in the social sphere of the technologically developed societies.

Historians have indeed been socialized by the discipline of history to avoid questions about the meaning of their own work. Any study of the nature of the truth about history must surely face the issue of what kind of truth historians produce and what mechanisms of self-criticism are built into disciplinary training. One might expect that a book on the topic of historical truth would raise questions about the validity and vigor of current disciplinary practices, that a major concern of such a volume would be a search for methods to evaluate disciplinary protocols.

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Cultural History and Postmodernity by Mark Poster

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