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Von Ranke's historiacal debates
● Over-stating the possibility of objectivity ● Focusing too much on role of politics (narrow) ● Claiming to be objective but possibly being influenced by his pro-Russian, conservative perspective
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Context of Ranke
● Conservative pro-Russian viewpoint ● Born in Thuringia ● Germany was not yet federated ● Supported a nationalistic Germany ● Studied theology and philology at University of Leipzig ● Lutheran (Protestant) ● Disapproved of the enlightenment
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Belief on the aims and purpose of history 1 Ranke
● Maintain objective ● Didn’t think history should teach political ideas ● Explored links between cultures and people
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Belief on the aims and purpose of history 2 Ranke
● Doesn’t unfairly criticise Roman Catholic Church (significant considering he was a Lutheran) ● ‘Achieves a remarkable degree of impartiality’ (Iggers) ● To ‘extinguish oneself’
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How has history been constructed Ranke 1
● Argued that a person should study the past for their own benefit ● Rigid objectivity (what he is famous for) ● ‘Strict presentation of facts’ and ‘rigorous scholarship’ ● ‘Tell what actually happened’ → ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen’
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How has history been constructed Ranke 2
● Focused on the history of the upper classes and on diplomatic/political history ● Focus on archival research ● Strong techniques of source analysis ● Used first-hand sources o Increased reliability
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How has history been constructed Ranke 3
● Narrative style ● Identified the importance of the relationship between the Church and the State Viewed political power as principal agent in history (not holistic)
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Why have approaches to history changed over time Ranke 1
● Created rigid objectivity ● ‘Created the history profession’ (Warren) ● Profound influence ● Elevated the status of history as a discipline at university/tertiary level ● Immaculate methodology (especially for his time period)
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Why have approaches to history changed over time Ranke 2
● Sophisticated historical technique ● Emphasis on original documents (primary sources) ● Archival research was extensively used ● Revolutionary impact ‘Founder of the science of history’
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What are the historical debates Carr
● Objectivity criticised ● Carr v. Elton debate ● Stalin and communist apologist historian ● Bitter towards middle class Did not include unpleasant aspects of Soviet history
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Context of Carr 1
● International relations scholar ● Wrote in depth on the Soviet Union ● Was absorbed in Russian culture and literature ● Educated at Merchant Taylor’s School (London) and Trinity College (Cambridge) ● Served in the British Foreign Office
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Context of Carr 2
● Attended the Paris Peace Conference ● Advisor on League of Nations affairs ● 1936- appointed Woodrow Wilson professor of international politics at the University College of Wales (Aberystwyth) ● Assistant editor of ‘The Times’ (London) during WWI
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What are the aims and purpose of history? Carr 1
● Examines the nature of history ● Extremely influential book ● Believed history was a progressive development of human potential ● ‘History means interpretation’ ● ‘History is an unending dialogue between the past and present’
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What are the aims and purpose of history? Carr 2
● Deterministic outlook ● Denied that the role of historians was to make moral judgements (criticism of Bede) ● Preferred the terms progressive or reactionary for value judgements ● Opposed the notion of the historian as a judge
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How has history been constructed over time? Carr 1
● Rejects Rankean assumptions ● Yet follows rigid objectivity of von Ranke ● Challenges previous historians ● Optimistic tone ● ‘Facts speak only when a historian calls on them’
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How has history been constructed over time? Carr 2
● Carr demonstrates that facts don’t speak for themselves, that hey are interpreted at every point by historians
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How has history been constructed over time? Carr 3
● ‘The belief in a ********* of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy’
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Facts division Carr
Facts of the past’- historical information the historian discards ‘Historical facts’- what the historian decides is important
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Changes tp history change Carr 1
● Aim of historians- warn readers against repeating the past ● Ability to remove himself from context ● Argued the importance of determinism (cause and effect → causation) ● Critical of historians who stressed chance and contingency
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Changes tp history change Carr 2
● Identified that most historians only examined the ‘winners’ in history → misleading and inaccurate ● Can’t only focus on individuals ‘great man of history’ → narrow, incomplete history → simplistic and easier to blame one person there are no stand
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How has history been constructed over time? Carr 4
● ‘Study the historian before your study the facts’ ● Used the example of the Stresemann papers to illustrate how context and chosen facts influence the outcome/interpretation → can create false impressions
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How has history been constructed over time? Carr 5
● Rejected anachronistic judgements and didactic history → criticism of Bede ● Approved Marxist framework for understanding the past (i.e. economic paradigm)
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Changes tp history change Carr 3
● Claims there are no universally valid standards by which human actions may be judged ● Rejected empirical view of the historian’s work being an accretion of facts
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Marx debates
● Inconsistencies ● Declared that he wasn’t a Marxist himself Argued to not have a proper philosophical basis
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Marx context 1
● Contemporary of Ranke ● Detested German nationalism and organised religion → viewed as root causes of humanity’s problems ● ‘Religion is the opium of the masses’ ● Established the Communist Correspondence Committee
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Marx context 2
● Political activist ● Studied law and philosophy at the University of Bonn and then Berlin ● Unable to get a university position after his PhD thesis (deemed too radical) → has potential to incite revolutions ● Exiled to Brussels then london
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Aims and purpose of history Marx 1
● Perceived economic growth to underpin every aspect of history ● Economic and material conditions prevented humans being free ● Extremely critical of capitalism → lead to exploitation, suited the interests and purposes of the bourgeoisie
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Aims and purpose of history Marx 2
● ‘History of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles’ ● Proved that human greed was caused by the nature of an industrialised society ● Criticised popular French and German philosophical and socialist ideas
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The construction of history over time Marx 1
● Heavily influenced by German philosopher Hegel ● Hegel believed the ‘goal of history is the liberation of all peoples’
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Marx division of society
1. Productive forces (machinery, raw materials and people’s skills) 2. Relations of production (economic structure, connection between classes) Superstructure (beliefs, systems and institutions in society that are represented by political and legal i
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Why have the approaches to history changed Marx 1
● Critical of the impact of the industrial revolution ● ‘The history of all society up to now is the history of class struggles’ ● Approach was ‘historical materialism’ → foundation of society rests on the ‘relations of production’
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Why have the approaches to history changed Marx 2
● Chance in history arise from economic changes ● Profound impact on historiography-
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Why have the approaches to history changed Marx 3
1. Truth of Marxism is upheld- it is accepted but its focus was on the elites (served the political needs of the ruling party) 2. Historians in a non-communist country becoming communist (e.g. Britain) When non-communist historians in a non-communist
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Historical debate on Elton
● Carr v. Elton debate ● Highly critical of Marxist histories (opposed the ‘vast economic forces’ influence on history’) Did not utilize myths or historians who sought to make laws for the past
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Context of Elton
● German, Jewish family ● University of London Taught at Cambridge
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What are the aims and purposes of history Elton 1
● Believed human intervention is critical in events and that history is a reconstruction based on people exercising reason and thought ● Historians must accept the facts ● Opposed Carr Emphasis on evidence and facts (not context of historians
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What are the aims and purposes of history Elton 2
● History is about the choices people make (not social structures and forces → basis of Marxist and Carr ideologies) ● Viewed political history as the most important kind of history (reflected in Tudor studies) ● ‘The historian need not try either t
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How has history been constructed over time? Elton 1
● Supports von Rankean model (empirical view) ● Supported the ‘great man theory’ → great emphasis on individuals ● Supporter of Henry VIII’s role (removed medieval features of the government) ● Utilised cross-disciplinary efforts (e.g. anthropology
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How has history been constructed over time? Elton 2
● Strong advocate for the primacy of political and administrative history ● ‘Because historical matter is in the past…its objective reality is guaranteed’ ● ‘The truth could be discovered if only we can find it’
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How have approaches to history changed over time? Elton 1
● Strong defender of the traditional methodologies of history ● Appalled by postmodernism and Marxist theory → ‘the intellectual equivalent of crack’ Doesn’t consider context → duty to father evidence empirically and objectively analyse
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Historical debate Michel Foucault
● Validity of the notion of the unattainable pursuit for truth is challenged ● Challenges history as a discipline ● Very controversial theory Threaten the epistemology of the history discipline
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Historical debate Foucalt 1
● French Postmodernist ● Notions of knowledge, power, truth and authority ● Studied philosophy and psychology at Ecole Normale Superieure ● Academic positions in Sweden, Poland and Germany ● Thesis on origins of modern psychiatry
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Historical debate Foucalt 2
● Facts are not purveyors of historical reality ● Historians cannot separate themselves from the period they study ● An anachronistic outlook does not improve history ● Sources have no fixed meaning and change with the interpretation of the histor
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Historical debate Foucalt 3
● History is invented and is constructed in a linear way ● Use of colligation by historians creates realism and reconstructionism
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What are the aims and purpose of history> Foucault 1
● ‘I am well aware that I have never written anything but fictions’ ● Shifted the focus from language → power and politics ● Objectivity and neutrality is a viewpoint
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What are the aims and purpose of history> Foucault 2
● Epistime = systems of knowledge and rules (‘whose jurisdiction extends without contingence’) → role of the historian
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What are the aims and purpose of history> Foucault 3
Claims that historians should abandon the superficial study of the ideas of the individual (connaissance) → instead favour deeper and more fundamental structures of thought (savor)
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How has the construction to history changed over time? Foucault 1
● Language was not the communicator of reality → it communicated power e.g. with sexuality ● No absolute truths; only rules and codes ● History isn’t a neutral record of the past → ‘Truth is linked with systems of power which produce and sustain it’
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How has the construction to history changed over time? Foucault 2
● The Birth of the Clinic →attacks standards assumptions about the history of medicine ● Challenges history’s obsession with continuity and progress (rejects Macaulay) ● Establishes the archive → system of rules/regularities about what can/can’t be
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How has the construction to history changed over time? Foucault 3
● Proposes that history tells of a constant struggle between different powers which try to impose their own construct of the truth ● Selectivity in evidence ● Dismissal of tragedies, comedies and poetry ● Forces meaning and interpretation from sourc
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Why have approaches to history changed over time? Foucoalt
● Strictly opposed to grand narratives (rejects Herodotus) ● ‘Humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to damnation’ → constant struggle ‘Each society has its own regime of truth’
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Context of Ranke

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● Conservative pro-Russian viewpoint ● Born in Thuringia ● Germany was not yet federated ● Supported a nationalistic Germany ● Studied theology and philology at University of Leipzig ● Lutheran (Protestant) ● Disapproved of the enlightenment

Card 3

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Belief on the aims and purpose of history 1 Ranke

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Card 4

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Belief on the aims and purpose of history 2 Ranke

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Card 5

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How has history been constructed Ranke 1

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