ERIC Number: ED308106
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988
Historians Reading/Reading Historians.
Vann, Richard T.
Since the entire fabric of one's historical knowledge is based on inferences drawn by historians in their readings of primary sources, a study of their reading habits, and a comparison of those habits with the habits of others who read for the purposes of discovery and interpretation may lead to areas of mutual interest or benefit. Although the differences between social history, intellectual history, and political history may initially seem so great that no single discipline (history) can encompass them all, it should be remembered that there is the same preference in them for primary sources, the same need to construe them referentially, and thus the same requirement that no source can be read except in the context of an ensemble of relevant others. The same sorts of questions raised by historians, such as whether the intentions of the author can be recovered, also preoccupy literary critics. An empathetic reconstruction of the author's situation is one of the methods used to recover that meaning, and the reading and interpretation of that text is based upon that intentional fallacy. To historians trained in documentary or verificationist readings, where the point is to abstract and test factual claims, reading works of history as rhetoric will seem a mistake. However, since the rhetorical aspects of historical works have been so often repressed, such an observation should make the reader aware of those rhetorical aspects. (PPB)
Descriptors: Content Analysis, Critical Reading, Critical Thinking, Historians, Historiography, History Textbooks, Intellectual History, Literary Criticism, Primary Sources, Rhetorical Invention, Social History
Richard T. Vann, Department of History, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut 06457.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A