The Different Schools of Historiography: A Reference

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The Different Schools of Historiography: A Reference

Mar 31, 2009, 9:36 am

The following is a section that people can refer to (and of course add to) in order to get a brief glimpse of the definitions of the different schools of historiography.

For complete reference on this list of terms please refer to wikipedia at:

In the meantime, the following is an all too brief summary:

Annales School –
The Annales School (pronounced is a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its French-language scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source, along with many books and monographs. The school has been highly influential in setting the agenda for historiography in France and numerous other countries, especially regarding use of social scientific methods into history, emphasis on social rather than political or diplomatic themes, and for being fairly acceptant of marxist historiography.

The second generation of the school was led by Fernand Braudel (August 24, 1902–November 27, 1985), was the foremost French historian of the postwar era, and a leader of the Annales School. He organized his scholarship around three great projects, each worth several decades of intense study: "The Mediterranean" (1923-49, then 1949-66), "Civilization and Capitalism" (1955-79), and the unfinished, "Identity of France" (1970-85). His reputation stems in part from his writings, but even more from his success in making the Annales School the most important engine of historical research in France and much of the world after 1950. As the dominant leader of the Annales School of historiography in the 1950s and 1960s, he exerted enormous influence on historical writing in France and other countries.
Braudel has been considered one of the greatest of those modern historians who have emphasised the role of large scale socio-economic factors in the making and telling of history. He can also be considered as one of the precursors of World Systems Theory.

An eminent member of this school, Georges Duby, wrote in the foreword of his book Le dimanche de Bouvines that the history he taught
relegated the sensational to the sidelines and was reluctant to give a simple accounting of events, but strived on the contrary to pose and solve problems and, neglecting surface disturbances, to observe the long and medium-term evolution of economy, society and civilisation.

Big history -
Big History examines history on a large scale across long time frames through a multi-disciplinary approach.1 Big History gives a focus on the alteration and adaptations in the human experience.2 Big History is a discrete field of historical study that arose in the late 1980s. It is related to, but distinct from, world history2, as the field examines history from the beginning of time to the present day. In some respects, the field is thus similar to the older universal history.

Cliometrics -
Cliometrics refers to the systematic application of economic theory, econometric techniques, and other formal/mathematical methods to the study of history (especially, social and economic history). The term was originally coined by Jonathan R.T. Hughes and Stanley Reiter in 1960 and refers to Clio, who was the muse of history.

Comparative history -
Comparative history is the comparison between different societies at a given time or sharing similar cultural conditions. Proponents of this approach include American historians Barrington Moore and Herbert E. Bolton; British historians Arnold Toynbee and Geoffrey Barraclough; and German historian Oswald Spengler. Several sociologists have tried their hand, including Max Weber, Pitirim Sorokin, S. N. Eisenstadt, Seymour Martin Lipset, and Michael Mann.
Historians generally accept the comparison of particular institutions (banking, women's rights, ethnic identities) in different societies, but since the hostile reaction to Toynbee in the 1950s, generally do not pay much attention to sweeping comparative studies.

Counterfactual history -
Counterfactual history, also sometimes referred to as virtual history, is a recent form of historiography which attempts to answer "what if" questions known as counterfactuals. It seeks to explore history and historical incidents by means of extrapolating a timeline in which certain key historical events did not happen or had an outcome which was different from that which did in fact occur.

The purpose of this exercise is to ascertain the relative importance of the event, incident or person the counterfactual hypothesis is negating. For instance, to the counterfactual claim "What would have happened had Hitler drunk coffee instead of tea on the afternoon he committed suicide?", the timeline would have remained unchanged — Hitler in all likelihood still would have committed suicide on April 30, 1945, regardless of what he had to drink that afternoon. However, to the counterfactual "What would have happened had Hitler died in the July, 1944, assassination attempt?", all sorts of possibilities become readily apparent, starting with the reasonable assumption that the Nazi generals would have in all likelihood sued for peace, bringing an early end to World War II, at least in the European Theater. Thus, the counterfactual brings into sharp relief the importance of Hitler as an individual and how his personal fate shaped the course of the war and, ultimately, of world history.

Critical historiography-
Critical historiography is used by various scholars in recent decades to emphasize the ambiguous relationship between history writing and historiography. Traditionally, historiography was seen as the study of the history-of-history or as a very specialized form of history writing. Increasingly there are those who view history writing in reverse, namely as a specialized form of historiography.

A type of critical historiography can be seen, for example, in the work of Harold Bloom. In Map of Misreading, Bloom argued that poets should not be seen as autonomous agents of creativity, but rather as part of a history that transcends their own production and that to a large degree gives it shape. The historian can try to stabilize poetic production so as to better understand the work of art, but can never completely extract the historical subject from history.

Cultural history –
The term cultural history (from the German term Kulturgeschichte) refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.
Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past knowledge, customs, and arts of a group of people. Its subject matter encompasses the continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future pertaining to a culture.

Cultural history records and interprets past events involving human beings through the social, cultural, and political milieu of or relating to the arts and manners that a group favors. Jacob Burckhardt helped found cultural history as a discipline. Cultural history studies and interprets the record of human societies by denoting the various distinctive ways of living built up by a group of people under consideration. Cultural history involves the aggregate of past cultural activity, such as ceremony, class in practices, and the interaction with locales.

Jacob Burckhardt showed how a period should be treated in its entirety, with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the social institutions of its daily life as well."

Cyclical and linear history-
Hegel argued that history is a constant process of dialectic clash, with each thesis encountering an opposing idea or event antithesis. The clash of both was "superated" in the synthesis, a conjunction which conserved the contradiction between thesis and its antithesis while sublating it.

Deconstruction -
Deconstruction is a term used in philosophy, literary criticism, and the social sciences, popularised through its usage by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s1.
Deconstruction involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate that, rather than being a unified whole, any given text has irreconcilably contradictory meanings.

Diplomatic history -
Diplomatic history, sometimes referred to as "Rankian History"4 in honor of Leopold von Ranke, focuses on politics, politicians and other high rulers and views them as being the driving force of continuity and change in history. This type of political history is the study of the conduct of international relations between states or across state boundaries over time. This is the most common form of history and is often the classical and popular belief of what history should be.

Diplomatic history is the past aggregate of the art and practice of conducting negotiations between accredited persons representing groups or nations. occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future regarding diplomacy, the conduct of state relations through the intercession of individuals with regard to issues of peace-making, culture, economics, trade and war. Diplomatic history records or narrates events relating to or characteristic of diplomacy.

Economic history -
Economic history is the study of how economic phenomena evolved in the past. Analysis in economic history is undertaken using a combination of historical methods, statistical methods and by applying economic theory to historical situations. The topic includes business history and overlaps with areas of social history such as demographic history and labor history. Quantitative economic history is also referred to as cliometrics.

Great man history -
The validity of the "hero" in historical studies
Further information: The validity of the "hero" in historical studies and Great man theory ·

After Hegel, who insisted on the role of "great men" in history, with his famous statement about Napoleon, "I saw the Spirit on his horse", Thomas Carlyle argued that history was the biography of a few central individuals, heroes, such as Oliver Cromwell or Frederick the Great, writing that "The history of the world is but the biography of great men." His heroes were political and military figures

Historical materialism -
Historical materialism is a methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history, first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx himself never used the term but referred to his approach as "the materialist conception of history." Historical materialism looks for the causes of developments and changes in the means by which human societies collectively cultivate the means to live, thus giving an emphasis, through economic analysis, to everything that co-exists with the economic base of society (e.g. social classes, political structures, ideologies). The fundamental proposition of historical materialism is premised in the following materialist conception:

“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. ”
—Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

History from below -
History from below is a concept of historical narrative in social history, which focuses on the perspectives of ordinary people, rather than political and other leaders. The term was coined by French historian Georges Lefebvre (1874–1959) and was popularised by British Marxist Historians during the 1960s.

This school of history was among the first to have a sympathetic approach to peasants and working class people.

History of ideas -
The history of ideas is a field of research in history that deals with the expression, preservation, and change of human ideas over time. The history of ideas is a sister-discipline to, or a particular approach within, intellectual history. Work in the history of ideas may involve interdisciplinary research in the history of philosophy, the history of science, or the history of literature. In Sweden, the history of ideas has been a distinct university subject since the 1930s, when Johan Nordström, a scholar of literature, was appointed professor of the new discipline at Uppsala University. Today, several universities across the world provide courses in this field, usually as part of a graduate program

Marxist historiography -
Marxist or historical materialist historiography is a school of historiography influenced by Marxism. The chief tenets of Marxist historiography are the centrality of social class and economic constraints in determining historical outcomes.

Marxist historiography has made contributions to the history of the working class, oppressed nationalities, and the methodology of history from below. The chief problematic aspect of Marxist historiography has been an argument on the nature of history as determined or dialectical; this can also be stated as the relative importance of subjective and objective factors in creating outcomes.
Marxist history is generally deterministic, in that it posits a direction of history, towards an end state of history as classless human society. Marxist historiography, that is, the writing of Marxist history in line with the given historiographical principles, is generally seen as a tool. Its aim is to bring those oppressed by history to self-consciousness, and to arm them with tactics and strategies from history: it is both a historical and a liberatory project

Metahistory -
Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe is a historiography book by Hayden White first published in 1974.
In Metahistory, White rejects the notion that historians or journalists are able to write about the past or present as it actually happens. Instead he defines archetypes of historians with specific characteristics who approach history with different types of narratives. The medium (the type of narrative) is the integral message of the history. White provides a system intended to de-mystify histories, historians, news reports, and journalists who claim to present things objectively. He also proposes some methods for determining in what ways a given account lacks complete objectivity and how it can be seen as ultimately ideological.

Microhistory -
Microhistory is a branch of the study of history. First developed in the 1970s microhistory is the study of the past on a very small scale. The most common type of microhistory is the study of a small town or village. Other common studies include looking at individuals of minor importance, or analysing a single painting. Microhistory is an important component of the "new history" that has emerged since the 1960s. It is usually done in close collaboration with the social sciences, such as anthropology and sociology.

Microhistory is to be distinguished from local history, in which research is not seen as a case study for more general historical trends, but is appreciated for its inherent interest to the local community.

Military history
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships. A conflict may range from a melee between two tribal groups to conflicts between national militaries, and a world war of coalitions affecting the majority of the global human population. Military historians record and analyse the events of military history, the product of which forms an important part of how societies and their leaders formulate future plans and policies for societal development.

Numismatics -
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes a much larger study of payment media used to resolve debts and the exchange of goods. Lacking a structured monetary system, people in the past as well as some today lived in a barter society and used locally-found items of inherent or implied value. Early money used by people is referred to as "Odd and Curious", but the use of other goods in barter exchange is excluded, even where used as a circulating currency (e.g., cigarettes in prison). The Kyrgyz people used horses as the principal currency unit and gave small change in lambskins. The lambskins may be suitable for numismatic study, but the horse is not. Many objects have been used for centuries, such as conch shells, precious metals and gems.

Paleography -
Palaeography, palæography (British), or paleography (American) (from the Greek παλαιός palaiós, "old" and γράφειν graphein, "to write") is the study of ancient handwriting, and the practice of deciphering and reading historical manuscripts.

Palaeography can be an essential skill for historians and philologists, as it tackles two main difficulties. First, since the style of a single alphabet has evolved constantly it is necessary to know how to decipher its individual characters.

Second, scribes often used many abbreviations, usually so that they could write more quickly, and sometimes to save space, so the palaeographer must know how to interpret them.

Political history -
'Political history narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is usually structured around the nation state. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as social history, economic history, and military history.

Generally, political history focuses on events relating to nation-states and the formal political process. According to Hegel, Political History "is an idea of the state with a moral and spiritual force beyond the material interests of its subjects: it followed that the state was the main agent of historical change"2 This contrasts with one, for instance, social history, which focuses predominantly on the actions and lifestyles of ordinary people,3 or people's history, which is historical work from the perspective of common people

Poststructural -
Post-structuralism encompasses the intellectual developments of continental philosophers and critical theorists who wrote with tendencies of twentieth-century French philosophy. The prefix "post" refers to the fact that many contributors, such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Julia Kristeva, rejected structuralism outright. In direct contrast to structuralism's claims of an independent signifier, superior to the signified, post-structuralism views the signifier and signified as inseparable but not united. The Post-structuralist movement is closely related to postmodernism—but the two concepts are not synonymous.

While post-structuralism is difficult to define or summarize, it can be broadly understood as a body of distinct reactions to structuralism.
History as Propaganda
Michel Foucault's analysis of historical and political discourse

The historico-political discourse analyzed by Foucault in Society Must Be Defended (1975-76) considered truth as the fragile product of a historical struggle, first conceptualized under the name of "race struggle" — however, "race"'s meaning was different from today's biological notion, being closer to the sense of "nation" (distinct from nation-states; its signification is here closer to "people"). Boulainvilliers, for example, was an exponent of nobility rights.

History as Propaganda-
Is history always written by the victors?
In his "Society must be Defended", Michel Foucault posited that the victors of a social struggle use their political dominance to suppress a defeated adversary's version of historical events in favor of their own propaganda, which may go so far as historical revisionism (see Michel Foucault's analysis of historical and political discourse above). Nations adopting such an approach would likely fashion a "universal" theory of history to support their aims, with a teleological and deterministic philosophy of history used to justify the inevitableness and rightness of their victories (see The Enlightenment's ideal of progress above).

Prosopography -
In historical studies, prosopography is an investigation of the common characteristics of a historical group, whose individual biographies may be largely untraceable, by means of a collective study of their lives, in multiple career-line analysis. Prosopographical research has the aim of learning about patterns of relationships and activities through the study of collective biography, and proceeds by collecting and analysing statistically relevant quantities of biographical data about a well-defined group of individuals. This makes it a valuable technique for studying many pre-modern societies. Prosopography is an increasingly important approach within historical research. The term is a popular one, and the concept is easily inflated
Lawrence Stone brought the term to general attention in an explanatory article in 1971.2 The word is drawn from the figure prosopoeia in classical rhetoric, introduced by Quintilian, in which an absent or imagined person is figured forth -- the "face created" as the Greek suggests — in words, as if present

As prosopographer Katherine Keats-Rohan puts it:
'Prosopography is about what the analysis of the sum of data about many individuals can tell us about the different types of connexion between them, and hence about how they operated within and upon the institutions - social, political, legal, economic, intellectual - of their time.’

Psychohistory -
Psychohistory is the study of the psychological motivations of historical events. It combines the insights of psychotherapy with the research methodology of the social sciences to understand the emotional origin of the social and political behavior of groups and nations, past and present. Its subject matter is childhood and the family (especially child abuse), and psychological studies of anthropology and ethnology.

Cultural history overlaps in its approaches with the French movements of histoire des mentalités (Philippe Poirrier, 2004) and the so-called new history, and in the U.S. it is closely associated with the field of American studies. As originally conceived and practiced by 19th Century Swiss historian Jakob Burckhardt with regard to the Italian Renaissance, cultural history was oriented to the study of a particular historical period in its entirety, with regard not only for its painting, sculpture and architecture, but for the economic basis underpinning society, and the social institutions of its daily life as well.

Quantitative history -
Quantitative History is an approach to historical research that makes use of quantitative, statistical and computer tools. It is considered a branch of social science history and has three leading journals: Historical Methods,(1967- ) Social Science History,(1976- ), and the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, (1968- )

Revisionism -
Within historiography, that is the academic field of history, historical revisionism is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations and decision-making processes surrounding an historical event. The assumption of the revisionist is that the interpretation of a historical event or period as it is accepted by the majority of scholars needs a significant change.

Pulitzer Prize winning historian James McPherson, writing for the American Historical Association, described the importance of revisionism:

The 14,000 members of this Association, however, know that revision is the lifeblood of historical scholarship. History is a continuing dialogue between the present and the past. Interpretations of the past are subject to change in response to new evidence, new questions asked of the evidence, new perspectives gained by the passage of time. There is no single, eternal, and immutable "truth" about past events and their meaning. The unending quest of historians for understanding the past—that is, "revisionism"—is what makes history vital and meaningful. Without revisionism, we might be stuck with the images of Reconstruction after the American Civil War that were conveyed by D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation and Claude Bowers's The Tragic Era. Were the Gilded Age entrepreneurs "Captains of Industry" or "Robber Barons"? Without revisionist historians who have done research in new sources and asked new and nuanced questions, we would remain mired in one or another of these stereotypes. Supreme Court decisions often reflect a "revisionist" interpretation of history as well as of the Constitution.

Social history -
Social history is an area of historical study, considered by some to be a social science, that attempts to view historical evidence from the point of view of developing social trends. In this view, it may include areas of economic history, legal history and the analysis of other aspects of civil society that show the evolution of social norms, behaviors and more. It is distinguished from political history, military history and the history of great men.

Social Evolutionism-
Further information: Sociocultural evolution
Inspired by the Enlightenment's ideal of progress, social evolutionism became a popular conception in the 19th century. Auguste Comte's (1798–1857) positivist conception of history, which he divided into the theological stage, the metaphysical stage and the positivist stage, brought upon by modern science, was one of the most influential doctrine of progress. The Whig interpretation of history, as it was later called, associated with scholars of the Victorian and Edwardian eras in Britain, such as Henry Maine or Thomas Macaulay, gives an example of such influence, by looking at human history as progress from savagery and ignorance toward peace, prosperity, and science. Maine described the direction of progress as "from status to contract," from a world in which a child's whole life is pre-determined by the circumstances of his birth, toward one of mobility and choice.
edit Does history have a teleological sense?
For further information: Social progress and Progress (philosophy)

Theodicy claimed that history had a progressive direction leading to an eschatological end, given by a superior power. However, this transcendent teleological sense can be thought as immanent to human history itself. Hegel probably represents the epitome of teleological philosophy of history. Hegel's teleology was taken up by Francis Fukuyama in his The End of History and the Last Man (see Social evolutionism above). Thinkers such as Nietzsche, Foucault, Althusser or Deleuze deny any teleological sense to history, claiming that it is best characterized by discontinuities, ruptures, and various time-scales, which the Annales School had demonstrated ·

Universal history-
Universal history is basic to the Western tradition of historiography, especially the Abrahamic wellspring of that tradition. Simply stated, universal history is the presentation of the history of mankind as a whole, as a coherent unit.
Ancient examples
edit Ancient authors
In Greco-Roman antiquity, the first universal history was written by Ephorus (fl. 4th century BC). This work has been lost, but its influence can be seen in the ambitions of Polybius (203–120 BC) and Diodorus (fl. 1st century BC) to give comprehensive accounts of their worlds. Later, universal history provided an influential lens on the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire in such works as Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, Augustine's City of God, and Orosius' History Against the Pagans.
During the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE) of China, Sima Qian (145–86 BC) was the first Chinese historian to attempt a universal history—from the earliest mythological origins of his civilization to his present day—in his Records of the Grand Historian. Although his generation was the first in China to discover the existence of kingdoms in Central Asia and India, his work did not attempt to cover the history of these regions.

Modern examples
An early European project was the Universal History of George Sale and others, written in the mid-eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, universal histories proliferated. Philosophers such as Kant, Schiller and Hegel, and political philosophers such as Marx, presented general theories of history that shared essential characteristics with the Biblical account: they conceived of history as a coherent whole, governed by certain basic characteristics or immutable principles. For example, Hegel presented the idea that progress in history is actually the progress not of mankind's material existence, but of humanity's spiritual development. Concomitantly, Hegel presented a developmental theory of how the human spirit progresses: through the dialectic of synthesis and antithesis. Marx's theory of dialectic materialism is essential to his general concept of history: that the struggle to dominate the means of production governs all historical development.

The roots of historiography in the nineteenth century are bound up with the concept that history written with a strong connection to the primary sources could, somehow, be integrated with "the big picture", i.e. to a general, universal history. For example, Leopold Von Ranke, probably the pre-eminent historian of the nineteenth century, founder of "Rankean positivism," the classic mode of historiography that now stands against postmodernism, attempted to write a Universal History at the close of his career. The work of Oswald Spengler and Arnold J. Toynbee are two examples of attempts to integrate primary source -based history and Universal History.

Spengler's work is more general; Toynbee created a theory that would allow the study of "civilizations" to proceed with integration of source-based history writing and Universal History writing. Both writers attempted to incorporate teleological theories into general presentations of the history.

Whig history
Whig history presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy.

In general, Whig historians stress the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms and scientific progress. The term is often applied generally (and pejoratively) to histories that present the past as the inexorable march of progress toward enlightenment. It also refers to a specific set of British historians. Its antithesis can be seen in certain kinds of cultural pessimism.

Women's history -
Women's history is the history of female human beings.
Areas covered in this include but are not limited to:1 Rights and equality 2 Employment 3 Sex and reproduction 4 Clothing 5 Religion 6.2 General 6.3 Sexuality

World history -
World History looks for common patterns that emerge across all cultures. World historians use a thematic approach, with two major focal points: integration (how processes of world history have drawn people of the world together) and difference (how patterns of world history reveal the diversity of the human experience).

The study of world history is in some ways a product of the current period of accelerated globalization. This period is tending both to integrate various cultures and to highlight their differences.

The advent of World History as a distinct field of study was heralded in the 1980s by the creation of the World History Association 2 and of graduate programs at a handful of universities. Over the past 20 years, scholarly publications, professional and academic organizations, and graduate programs in World History have proliferated. It has become an increasingly popular approach to teaching history in United States high schools and colleges. Many new textbooks are being published with a World History approach.
For more on World History

Jun 4, 2009, 11:35 pm

Pardon my ignorance, but is there any difference between a school of history and one of historiography? I can imagine how a historiography would encompass schools of history but am puzzled by schools of historiography.

Has anyone considered a Meme Project or a Web of Ideas, i.e., an evolutionary approach to history?

For literary history -- at least for genres of poetry in Japan -- I note there are nominalists who follow labels over time, pedigree-mongers who follow the equivalent of Biblic begats (who taught whom and who belonged to what school), and my favorite, those who carefully observe content and style to make judgment based on substance. Believe it or not, at least when it comes to the areas I know most about (haiku and kyoka) that last school is extremely small because it involves something most specialists fear: making judgments which some might call subjective.

Having never studied history itself I know little of it. On the other hand, I have had to make many calls about the histories of specific things in the course of my studies, so I feel both totally ignorant of history yet critical of whatever is written about it becuase something alwasy contradicts my experience . . .

Be that as it may, I see you have more threads than may be easily followed above. I have not yet checked the various discussion groups in History, but I would want to start with "What is history for?"

Jan 19, 2010, 10:26 pm

Ok folks, something quite different.

A website for Progressive Historians....

I pass it on to you with the sense that it may be of use to someone out there.

I have been monitoring it for about 5 months, and am still a bit puzzled by it. But I put it out here in the interests of giving everyone everything and then letting them chose.

Jan 19, 2010, 11:33 pm

Not all of these approaches are agreed upon by historians, but this is an interesting list. Some, like the Annales School, are followed in Europe, but not in the US, where I am writing from. Some are even derogatory terms, like "Whig history"--I don't think there ever really was anyone who actually called themselves a Whig historian. I love Wikipedia; they have really left no stone unturned in putting this together!

Jan 20, 2010, 3:35 am

I think that's a confusing list. Some categories relate to methodology (e.g. palaeography), some to the workings of the academic community (e.g. revisionism), others to philosophy of history (e.g. deconstruction, metahistory), others again to a specific group of historians (e.g. Annales) and others to a specific topic of historical study (e.g. military history). Seems like this list has been put together at random without giving much thought to how comparable the categories are.

I don't have an alternative list to propose, but if I did try to write one I would at least categorize by methodologies, topics and time periods separately. And I would not include philosophy of history in historiography.

Feb 7, 2010, 5:39 pm

5: I think that relates to the omnivorous, encyclopedic nature of "History." It encompasses literally everything: methodologies, personalities, philosophy, etc.

"Philosophy of history" in "historiography" seems redundant and tautological, since historiography is the philosophy of history. Not to be confused with "intellectual history" which encompasses philosophy and thought in general.

A good place to start is What is History? by EH Carr. He covers major schools of thought and has his own opinion on matters. Since what is history without opinion and interpretation?

Feb 7, 2010, 10:20 pm

What is History? by EH Carr.....gulp...I think I have some catching up to do on my reading.

Thank you.


Feb 9, 2010, 11:58 am

Since that lists in "historiography" is an unsorted hodge-podge, here's a suggestion:

1. Schools of History:

Frankfurt School, Annales School, etc.

2. Methodology (How the accumulated data is used):

Cliometrics, oral history, etc.

3. Disciplines (actual fields with their own demands, structures, etc.):

Paleontology, History, Archaeology, etc.

Oct 10, 2020, 1:39 pm

My thanks to Michael Sharon for his adaptation of the original “Chinese Dinner Menu” of Historiography.

What is the Author's Purpose of studying History?
For its own sake
Moral Example
Seek to learn from the past to prevent mistakes in the future
Advance an ideological agenda
Identify the laying out of God's plan
Identify the laying out dialectical materialism

Soups and Salads
What Methodology does the author use to research and write about History?
Marxist Methodology
Reliance on Oral history
Based on Theory
Synthetic/Blending of different methods*

Small Plates
What does the author see as the Engine of History?
Economic interests/Materialism (sometimes deterministic)
Great Ideas
Great Men
Accident and whimsy
Ordinary People
Synthesis of Several approaches

What is the Author's Interpretative School?
Providentialist (God's will)15th-18th C
Annales (European, mostly French)1910-1940s
Romantic 1800s
Consensus (American 1940s-50s)
Historicism(Von Ranke mid to late 1800s)
Progressive (American 1900-1930s)
Modernist 1950s-1970s
Post Modernist 1980s
Deconstructionist/Post-structuralist 1980s
Structuralist 1960s-70s
Old Left (Marxist-Leninist)1920s-1950s
New Left (Semi-Maoist/Castroite) 1960s-1980s
Marxist 1900-pres

Lyrical Left (Cultural Radicalism - mostly American) 1930s-pres
Positivist (European - mostly French)
Whig (18th - 19th Century Progressive England or America as highest expression of History)
Feminist 1960s-pres
Post-colonial 1960s -pres

Neo-Conservative (not the same as the political neo-con) or neo-Consensus

Neo-Providentialism (How God employs human agency and how man's theological view of the world affects history) emerging, See Conference on Faith and History, Dr Mark Noll etc..

What Subfield of History does the author write in?

Dec 10, 2020, 9:40 pm

>3 Urquhart: Ok, visited the site and watched for a brief time. Have since moved on and don't intend to visit again. History is History, if we analyze a topic too much, before you know it, we forgot what we were really talking about in the first place. Just my opinion only. Thanks