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Frustrated with the usual methods of scholarly inquiry, Ewa Domanska hit upon the idea of interviewing some of the world's most original and important theorists and philosophers of history to get at the heart of contemporary understandings of "history." The result is Encounters, an exciting collection of these dialogues. So old-fashioned as to seem revolutionary, the interview format allows for a concise presentation of the main ideas of each writer, providing easy access to theories that have shaped modern historiography.
No one book could encompass the vast territory of contemporary historiography, but this text gives us a sense of what underlies some of the most interesting and challenging work in the field. Although Domanska's interlocutors hold widely divergent views, they agree about which issues are important. Most strikingly, all share the belief that aesthetics, objective reality, and meaning are the most crucial concerns in our understanding of history today. The interviews also address such pressing issues as the relation of history to its modes of presentation, the relation of particular works of history to the notion of history in general, and the personal and civic functions of history. Ewa Domanska's Encounters offers a unique look into the hearts and minds of today's most stimulating historical theorists.
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Ewa Domanska is Assistant Professor of the Methodology of History and of the History of Historiography at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland.From Library Journal:
Here are 11 interviews with thinkers worried by (or delighting in) the question of whether or not there really is historical truth. The proliferation of "kinds of history"?economic, cultural, feminist, anthropological, psychological, and dozens more?has made postmodern relativism, with its denial of absolute truth, seem attractive. Yet our constitutional freedoms, our marriages, and even our bank balances depend on there being a real truth about who did what when. Domanska, a young Polish scholar in Holland, hopes to sort things out by interviewing philosophers and historians. At the center is Hayden White, philosopher-historian from Santa Cruz, who is mentioned 232 times. Half idealist philosopher inspired by R.G. Collingwood and half deconstructionist, White says one can never undertake history without imposing an interpretative structure on the facts, yet there is a kind of bedrock. Hans Kellner and Franklin R. Ankersmit (respectively, an American and a Dutch historian) are more disposed to Postmodernism, while Arthur C. Danto, the New Yorker whose work has inspired much recent philosophy and art criticism, insists that clarity and logic take precedence over everything else. More editing would have helped, as would the inclusion of a conventional historian, but this is a useful book for academic collections.?Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa, Ont.
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