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Authoring the Past: Writing and Rethinking History by Alun Munslow

By Alun Munslow

Please clarify why you consider and write historical past as you do?

Collecting jointly the responses to this query from 15 of the world’s best historians and theorists, Authoring the Past represents a strong mirrored image on and intervention within the historiographical box.

Edited by way of Alun Munslow and offered in concise digestible essays, the gathering covers a extensive variety of latest pursuits and ideas and provides a wealthy set of reasoned replacement options on our cultural engagement with occasions passed by. rising from an intensely fertile interval of historic proposal and perform, Authoring the Past examines the range of techniques to the self-discipline that experience taken form in this time and indicates attainable destiny methods of pondering and interacting with the prior. It presents a special perception into contemporary debates at the nature and function of historical past and demonstrates that after diversified metaphysical and aesthetic offerings are made, the character of the illustration of the previous turns into an issue of valid dispute. scholars, students and practitioners of heritage will locate it a stimulating and precious resource.

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Example text

But what I got from it was, above all else, a heavy scepticism about any definitive reading (including my own and Marxist ones unfortunately) and a realization that every historical reading beyond the statement or the chronicle (and history is always beyond the statement and the chronicle) is ‘inexpungeably relativistic’ … so maybe it did work after all! But, what I’m saying is that, certainly by the late 1960s (and by then in my mid/ late twenties – I was born in 1943), I think I was developing a position that was a sort 32 Keith Jenkins of postmodernist one in embryo; a postmodernism before the letter as it were – or at least before the letter had reached me.

For although I was, and am, aware of the capitalist/commodifying ‘nature’ of postmodernism – of course – from the start postmodern ways of thinking seemed to me to be at least potentially capable of being turned towards that radical political agenda I had just about always held, a potential it seemed important to stress given, by the late 1980s and 1990s, the relative disarray of global communism, the theoretical stagnation ‘Marxism’ seemed to be in, and the politics of the Thatchers and the Reagans.

Now, I am aware that there is no necessary connection (more’s the pity) between being working class and being on the political left. But there was such a connection for me. When I first read (or tried to read) E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class in the mid-1960s as part of a course I was taking, I thought this was a way of understanding the past which surely all ‘human’ beings could agree with. That they didn’t – and the dawning realization that they couldn’t given the way class/ ideology broadly governed readings – thus brought home to me the positioned nature of all readings – including my own – and the ideological preferences that constituted them.

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