- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 10, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393351173
- ISBN-13: 978-0393351170
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #491,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Writing History in the Global Era 1st Edition
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“Hunt has…the most reliable eye for new trends in the American historical profession, and what she considers important always amounts to more than the sum of her current enthusiasms…she has a preternatural sense of the new new thing being touted by historians to study old things.”
- Samuel Moyn, The Nation
“No one has a better nose for historical trends than Lynn Hunt. Her short, sharp book offers an inspiring declaration of interdependence for historians―to understand the global present collaboratively, using all our tools to unscramble the entangled past.”
- David Armitage, author of Foundations of Modern International Thought
“With characteristic concision and lucidity, Lynn Hunt takes on the methodological dilemmas facing all historians today…A thought-provoking snapshot of where historians stand now and where they might be headed. Lively and engaging, this book will help both budding and seasoned historians understand the current state of their discipline.”
- Sarah Maza, author of The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie
About the Author
Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, former president of the American Historical Association, and author of numerous works, including Inventing Human Rights and Telling the Truth about History. She lives in Los Angeles.
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Hunt is blunt about history writers, as well as readers: "… humans look for a logic in their stories that is related to their own goals." (p. 127). She identifies four paradigms (over-arching accounts of metanarratives of historical developments) along with goals, in the post World War II period: Marxism (eventual withering of the state) modernization (social progress) Annales school (long term social histories) and identity politics (social movements). In the period of 1960 to1990s criticism of these paradigms arose: cultural studies, post structuralism, post modernism and post colonials. In the 21st-century, globalization themes are pursued in historical narratives, especially in response to Marx and 20th century modernization aging enthusiasts. When you pick up a history study, it is well to know the sequence of events! And to check out your own goals before throwing down a volume in disgust.
Why can't history be more scientific? Hunt addresses this issue. The problem: the impossibility of separating analysis and causal explanation from narrative. We all are storytellers, and our conscious and unconscious goals may warp what we perceived and conclude. There is no escape from this. Solution: recognition the major narratives are tied to a particular moment in time. Hunt emphasizes that history has no set course from which a story, especially about the future, can be grounded. She recommends starting from a particular moment and researching the history of the past. Trends can be discovered, but they are not arrows to determine straight-way the future. And there can be various arrows discerned. "… history has no preordained end points…" (p.128).
As I read her book, philosopher Philip Kitcher's ethical-project concept came to my mind. He has concluded no external reality can be a base for what is good or bad. We have to have a conversation in our present moment and hopefully arrive at a consensus, or at least a peaceful compromise or tolerance. Kitcher is hopeful for ethical progress from our present moment and dismissive of speculative programs to future times. What can we do now to make the world a little more peaceful, rather than set a goal for world peace. Please no more wars on drugs and crime, but what can we do now to reduce drug use and crime, at least somewhat. Then things need conversation and working together, as well as historical research. First research the history of the ethic. Don't propose utopias to aim at, but rather assess the present moment for modest goals for the near future through conversation, not external guidance by experts or divinities. But first talk about how we got our present values and notions. Read some history.
I tried the kindle, paperback, and Audible versions. All were useful. 5 stars for the book. 2 stars for the narration "performance" -- I wish the Audible performance by Suzanne Toren did not sound so aloof, affected, and self-satisfied -- it seemed like an impersonation of a professor from a century ago (few contemporary academics actually sound like that, and if they do, it's annoying), so it distracted the listener from the book's content.