It becomes rapidly clear, however, that the author’s primary intention is to respond to the formidable challenge to history as a discipline presented by now well known postmodern criticism. Evans mounts a defense of doing History that accepts and incorporates many of the points of postmodernist and poststructuralist thinkers, one that accepts parts of the critique of the discipline's foundations without giving up a belief that the past is knowable, even if not always with perfect clarity, and that there are clear and straightforward ways of approaching historical research. The book covers various topics, i remember one of my favorites was when the book asks whether history should be treated as a science? Did Evans read Of Grammatology as his note claims? At heart, this book is a response to Postmodernism's criticism of history as a discipline and intellectual endeavour. He derisively says it is inexplicable why anybody would want to read Badiou. In the end, his book is a much-needed dose of common sense. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), byname of U.S. Public Law 104-199., law in force from 1996 to 2013 that specifically denied to same-sex couples all benefits and recognition given to opposite-sex couples. In Defence of History steps aside from the risks entailed in any such critique, preferring a number of sniping remarks along the way. 0 Reviews. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is the military organisation responsible for the defence of Australia and its national interests. He was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Gonville & Caius College. His demolition of the wilder claims of post-modern historians, who deny the possibility of … Defense of Poesy was the first critical essay in Renaissance England. The author comes across as self important, obnoxious and pretentious. The book begins with a history of history: raising first pre-modern styles of history, such as the chronicle and the morality tale of Gibbon’s "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". Dismissed in a single sentence and a bizarre one at that, to the effect that 'master-narratives are the hegemonic stories told by those in power' (p. 150). Start by marking “In Defense of History” as Want to Read: Error rating book. It is said that Derrida 'rejected the search for origins and causes as futile' (pp. The Defence of Poesy Summary and Study Guide Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of “The Defence of Poesy” by Philip Sidney. Certainly there should have been a chapter on Hayden White, the most significant historian who might qualify for the adjective 'postmodern'. [Just to finish: the more correct term for 'subconscious' (p. 206) is 'unconscious'.]. "For my own part, I remain optimistic that objective historical knowledge is both desirable and attainable. As a by-product of this defence Evans gives a clear survey of what history is and what it claims to do. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. In a genre over-populated by blinkered (not to say ignorant)and choleric conservative enemies of some ill-defined "postmodernism", Evans' book stands out as a balanced and thoughtful look at what History as a discipline is and should be. In this book the author Richard J. Evans, looks at the very different forms of approaching history, and to discuss post-modernism! I’m going on a roll sharing all of my final essays with you guys because they have been incredibly difficult to write and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished throughout the semester! It is depressing to think that this uninformed yet totally self-confident work of naive provincialism should come from close to the heartlands of English culture. I zipped through it pretty fast. Fri 14 Jan 2005 20.42 EST Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Plot Summary of “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. Sir Richard, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, is no swashbuckling character. A brilliant, balanced and open-minded discussion of what historians are trying to do and how they are trying to do it. What makes it interesting is that in this case the attack is coming from the Left. It appeared in the British United Service Magazine under the pseudonym, Lieutenant N. Backsight Forethought ("BF"), who is the narrator of the book. In this volume, English historian Richard Evans offers a defence of the importance of his craft. He charts a useful middle ground for the working historian that is neither unthinking-elitist-empiricism or indulgent-political-relativism. One thing I appreciated when I first read the book, is that he critiques the representation of the historical profession among philosophers of history who only ever seem to write about historians of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as if there had been no changes in historical methods of research or writing since that time. Can there be said to be a real history, or merely interpretations? But "The Defence of the History" has quickly turned into the defence of the professional historians from the post-modernists, not always very convincing, imho. Gosson’s work faced a lot of scorn and opposition; Sidney’s Defense of Poesy– also known as An Apology for Poetry– was a response to Gosson. Evans is quite supportive of the useful correctives and insights postmodernism provides, while pushing firmly back on the more absurdist, reductionist claims. Richard Evans’ In Defense of History is, according the author’s introductory claims, a work of reflection on the state of the profession written by an active professional. He was portrayed the movie "Denial" about the libel trial of Irving v. Lipstadt in which he served as an expert witness for Lipstadt as she proved the truth of the Holocaust against the falsehood of Irving’s denialism. The massive controversy this book has aroused amongst British historians proves it once again. The most extreme postmodernists argue that the past can be described in so many different ways and from so many different points of view that it's impossible to determine what really happened. But Evans skates very lightly for good reason as he is often on thin theoretical ice. It was delightful to find that the great Ranke learned his method from literatary studies, then called Philology. It is asserted that Derrida's position was that 'Nothing existed outside language' (p. 95). This book does not analyse a specific event in history, it analyses Historians and the various different forms of approaching history in the profession of an Historian! What’s the role of individuals? I found this book by the emeritus Regius Professor of Modern History agreeable and sensible, but a trifle disappointing. Get A Copy Amazon Also the relativism is represented by the critique of Carr 'What is history?" Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. I would strongly recommend this as a starting point for any postgraduate student wanting to enter the field. Historical interpretation has evolved 'through contact with the real historical world', a contact said to be 'indirect, because the real historical world has disappeared'; but hey, no worries, for the documents 'which the real world of the past has left behind ... were themselves created in a much more direct interaction with reality' (p. 112). It admits that there is more than one kind of postmodernism ('there are many different varieties', p. 205) yet rides roughshod over all these differences in its lampoon. Having been a Visiting Professor in History at Gresham College during 2008/09, he is now the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric. Reality is still there but at a slight remove. From November 1990 to early January 1991, I used Refutation of official history (which in my head was a variant of In defence of history) as title for the longest series in my Thursday column in those days. In Defence of History aims to defend a mainstream notion of history-writing against 'intellectual barbarians' (p. 8), namely 'the invading hordes of semioticians, post-structuralist, New Historicists, Foucauldians, Lacanians and the rest' (p. 9). (pp. As it is, the book relates concerns among historians about postmodern philosophy in a way that. The poetry of history lies in the quasi-miraculous fact that once, on this earth, once, on this familiar spot of ground, walked other men and women, as actual as we are today, thinking their own thoughts, swayed by their own passions, but now all gone, one generation vanishing into another, gone as utterly as we ourselves shall shortly be gone, like ghosts at cockcrow'. Though his name is on the cover Richard J. Evans did not really write In Defence of History - rather, the dominant paradigm of the English empiricist tradition wrote it for him, because he made no critical attempt to interfere with its passage through him onto the page. In this book the author Richard J. Evans, looks at the very different forms of approaching history, and to discuss post-modernism! I respect Evans as a historian, and chose to teach this book after having side-lined it a few years ago because of his important work in the Lipstadt/Irving trial. A lucid, muscular, and often sly reflection on the nature of historical knowledge by an experienced practicing historian. Library descriptions No library descriptions found. Evans denies that all of history is interpretation and that no one interpretation is better than any other. Just as using the methods from the social sciences allowed historians to learn more about non-elites, he writes, the postmodernist analysis of texts and undermining of the big narratives of Marxism and modernization theory have enriched the study of history. It is the 'facts' that are unstable, subject to revision and further interpretation, and even dismissable as illusions on sufficient grounds. Evans, contrary to various postmodern thinkers hoping to cast doubt on the possibility of objectivity in history, argues that: I know that the old Whitmanesque defense needs an overhaul. The argument, while sometimes a bit "stodgy" attempts to be even-handed in describing elements of postmodernism that have improved historical writing while also criticizing what Evans dubs "extreme relativism". Gordon Wood | Apr 1, 2010. What’s best known about this book is Evans’s defense of history from postmodernism. However, in the first year of its publication in France, readers purchased twenty thousand copies of his Being and Event (2001). Evans' argument of middle-grounded liberalism and acceptance also uses historical literary evidence to st. Evans sets out to 'defend history' through responding to the challenges of postmodernism and generally finding a middle ground between the extremities within historical theory. Created Autumn 2001 by the Institute of Historical Research.Copyright notice. Is an objective account possible? The writing of academic history seems to be in a crisis. This is a howler, though a common one which gets regularly crossed out in undergraduate essays for courses in theory. A Brief History of Liberal Education. Pub. Given the topic one might have expected a serious and sustained discussion of Foucault's account of history - we get a paragraph on pp. 'Nor is the Kuhnian notion of a paradigm really applicable to history; historians in general do not work within rigid and constricting paradigms' (p. 43): the qualifiers here make this a typically slippery statement (historians don't work within paradigms at all? The fundamental view taken by In Defence of History is that all history-writing faces is the regrettable little difficulty that the past is not actually 'felt and experienced by our senses' in the present. All in all, a book worth reading for anyone who takes History seriously and wants to understand why and how one does History. In Defence of History inhabits a simpler world: if we are always mindful of the 'intentions of the writer during the act of reading' (p. 104), then we will find that 'the limits which the language of the text imposes on the possibilities of interpretation' are set 'to a large extent by the original author' (p. 106). His plea for a moderate application of classic historical methods brings him in conflict with postmodernism. Etc. But overall this a great read, and if your history student, it will help you analyse source documents and history in general in a more academic way! Elton. In Defense of History by Richard J Evans (Author, Cambridge University) A master practitioner gives us an entertaining tour of the historian's workshop and a spirited defense of the search for historical truth. This philosophical current in its most extreme form has undermined the fundamentals of historical study, but Evans acknowledges it also has brought some valuable new insights. Most contemporary critical theory arrives by passing through a single gate, recognition of the distance or gap or non-coincidence between reality and representation. Crucially, in my view, Evans admits the impossibility not only of fully reconstructing the past but also of disregarding present purposes and personal principles (two concepts maintained by Elton as possible/postmodernists as impossible). This article is more than 15 years old. It was delightful to find that the great Ranke learned his method from literatary studies, then called Philology. After Lehman the footnote directs the reader generally to Of Grammatology though not specifically to page 158, which states 'il n'y a pas de hors-texte'. Richard Evans, distinguished professor of history at Cambridge, published it in 1997. If Evans' procedure in dealing with texts, source material and key questions is what historians mean by scholarly humility they will be disappointed to find that it is not widely imitated outside their own discipline. WOW! Richard J. Evans mounts a brilliant and compellingly effective defence of the historian’s capacity to reach genuine insights about past events. 195-6. As I read history books now, I will be thinking about who has written the book and what their agenda and background are. Well, no he didn't; the signified is the concept or meaning and the thing (what philosophers term 'the referent') is another question altogether. The book gives an overview of some of the major movements in the study of history over the past 200 years, but its primary objective is to defend history from postmodernists. In it, he attempts to refute absolute skepticism (or nihilism) by arguing that at least some of our established beliefs—facts—about the world are absolutely certain. Doesn't a historian's scholarship include enough O-level French to distinguish between 'Rien n'existe hors du language' and the much more troubling assertion Derrida actually made? The Defence of Duffer's Drift was published in 1904 when Swinton was a Captain. Critics of the book describing the author as an unreconstructed Rankean are missing what makes this a good general book on historical methods. Throughout he addresses the positions of historians and the schools of history that have attempted to answer these questions with finality. A great defence of history and a great defense of the truth, Interesting topics and fluent writing. Sir Richard, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, is no swashbuckling character. Recent advances in computer technology and satellite mapping have enabled remarkable discoveries of previously unimagined physical 'evidence', from ancient trade routes to the Turkish railway lines that T. E. Lawrence's Arabs blew up. In Defence of History has already become a standard text in the teaching of history. It is fashionable to say 'my truth is as valid as yours'. Angie Thomas was as stunned as her fans when she was spurred to write a prequel to The Hate U Give, her blockbuster 2017 YA debut inspired by... To see what your friends thought of this book. That statement is pretty typical of the tone of the book, a robust, earthy common sense in which the word 'paranoia' would be less likely to appear than 'parakeet'. Richard Evans book, In Defense of History is not for everyone. In defence of history. It is fashionable to say 'my truth is as valid as yours'. So when Patrick Joyce tells us that social history is dead, and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth declares that time is a fictional construct, and Roland Barthes announces that all the world's a text, and Hans Kellner wants historians to stop behaving as if we were researching into things that actually happened, and Diane Purkiss says that we should just tell stories without bothering whether or not, "For my own part, I remain optimistic that objective historical knowledge is both desirable and attainable. In Defense of Food Summary. Eric Hobsbawm. Building on (and updating) the debate between E. H. Carr and G. R. Elton about the nature of history and historical research, Evans presents a balanced argument that acknowledges both the objectivity of truth and the subjectivity of the historian. This book was written before the publication of his three volume history of Nazi Germany and I often wished I could ask specific questions such as, 'Does it matter that we lack a written order by Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews?' In defence of history. As far as the first goes, it doesn’t really seem to contain much that an average history graduate would be surprised by, although it might be helpful to those beginning or intending to begin a history degree (it was recommended me in my first year and I only just got around to reading it several years after graduation). I agree with the large majority of Evans' assessments, as he evaluates various cited works fairly, since he systematically considers the good and bad side of each view, and sets out a consistent argument from the off. At a time of deep scepticism about our ability to learn anything from the past, even to recapture any serious sense of past cultures and ways of life, Evans shows us why history is both possible and necessary. Eric Hobsbawm. Evans understands 'logocentric' to mean a feature of people who imagined 'they were rational beings engaged in a process of discovery' (p. 94). It is a bit of a half-hearted attempt to write a new synthesis of where the study of history stands for, thirty years after the classics in that department by E. H. Carr and G.R. Later he cites Lehman again - not Derrida - as the source for Derrida's views on Paul de Man (footnote 17, p. 236). Containment—as a metaphor for the act of writing about others—is unequal to the times we live in. I agree with the large majority of Evans' assessments, as he evaluates various cited works fairly, since he systematically considers the good and bad side of each view, and sets out a consistent argument from the off. But it's not true. 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As Evans is quite supportive of the times we live in inexplicable why would!

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