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Beyond the Great Story

Beyond the Great Story

History as Text and Discourse

Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr.

ISBN 9780674069084

Publication date: 09/01/1997

What legitimate form can history take when faced by the severe challenges issued in recent years by literary, rhetorical, multiculturalist, and feminist theories? That is the question considered in this long-awaited and pathbreaking book. Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., addresses the essential practical concern of contemporary historians; he offers a way actually to go about reading and writing histories in light of the many contesting theories.

Berkhofer ranges through a vast archive of recent writings by a broad range of authors. He explicates the opposing paradigms and their corresponding dilemmas by presenting in dialogue form the positions of modernists and postmodernists, formalists and deconstructionists, textualists and contextualists. Poststructuralism, the New Historicism, the New Anthropology, the New Philosophy of History--these and many other approaches are illuminated in new ways in these comprehensive, interdisciplinary explorations.

From them, Berkhofer arrives at a clear vision of the forms historical discourse might take, advocates a new approach to historical criticism, and proposes new forms of historical representation that encompass multiculturalism, poetics, and reflexive (con)textualization. He elegantly blends traditional and new methodology; assesses what the "revival of the narrative" actually entails; considers the politics of disciplinary frameworks; and derives coherent new approaches to writing, teaching, reviewing, and reading histories.

Praise

  • A welcome and useful book to all serious students of history… Exactly how should history be presented, if indeed, in the face of poststructuralist and postmodernist theories, it can be written at all? Berkhofer seeks an answer by constructing ‘a dialogue among changing intellectual influences’ and in so doing has produced a work of great importance and instruction.

    —Virginia Quarterly Review

Author

  • Robert F. Berkhofer, Jr., was Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His many publications include Salvation and the Savage: An Analysis of Protestant Missions and American Indian Response, 1787–1962; A Behavioral Approach to Historical Analysis; and The White Man’s Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present.

Book Details

  • 400 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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