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Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (Encounters) [Paperback]

By Carolyn Steedman (Author)
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Item description for Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (Encounters) by Carolyn Steedman...

In this witty, engaging, and challenging book, Carolyn Steedman has produced an originaland sometimes irreverentinvestigation into how modern historiography has developed. "Dust: The Archive and Cultural History" considers our stubborn set of beliefs about an objective material worldinherited from the nineteenth centurywith which modern history writing and its lack of such a belief, attempts to grapple. Drawing on her own published and unpublished writing, Carolyn Steedman has produced a sustained argument about the way in which history writing belongs to the currents of thought shaping the modern world.

Steedman begins by asserting that in recent years much attention has been paid to the archive by those working in the humanities and social sciences; she calls this practice "archivization." By definition, the archive is the repository of "that which will not go away," and the book goes on to suggest that, just like dust, the "matter of history" can never go away or be erased.

This unique work will be welcomed by all historians who want to think about what it is they do.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Rutgers University Press
Pages   195
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.8" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.69"
Weight:   0.55 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2002
Publisher   Rutgers University Press
ISBN  0813530474  
ISBN13  9780813530475  

Availability  96 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 18, 2017 02:01.
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More About Carolyn Steedman

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carolyn Steedman is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Warwick. Her recent publications include Master and Servant: Love and Labour in the English Industrial Age (2007) and Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England (2009).

Carolyn Steedman has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Warwick.

Carolyn Steedman has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Encounters

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Historical Study > Historiography
2Books > Subjects > History > World > General
3Books > Subjects > History > World

Reviews - What do customers think about Dust: The Archive and Cultural History (Encounters)?

Dusting off the archive  Jan 1, 2003
Carolyn Steedman is a unique figure in contemporary social history. Her often idiosyncratic work in nineteenth and early twentieth century British history combines conventional social history with life-writing, literary analysis, and contemporary critical theory, while at the same time manifesting a healthy skepticism toward postmodernist theory's more extreme claims about textuality, power, identity, and so forth. This book--really a set of revised journal articles--provides a theoretical account of the role of the archive in modern history, historiography, and critical theory. As she wends her way through her eclectic argument, Steedman takes up everything from rag rugs and Michelet to _Middlemarch_ and _Our Mutual Friend_. "Dust," Steedman's central figure, is simultaneously the past as rubbish, the past as present, and the past as decay (as the papers and bindings in the archive crumble). Steedman's reflections on what historians really do in the archives, prefaced by the acknowledgment that, in reality, many historians do not "do" such research, are partly directed against the poststructuralist critiques of philosophers like Jacques Derrida, whose theories about the archive and power, she deftly suggests, do not account for the sheer ordinariness, or even dullness, of archival work.

Steedman is certainly one of the more graceful writers in contemporary history, and she demonstrates a welcome sense of humor (and unpretentiousness) often missing from academic prose. While most readers will find this book fast going, one cannot help wishing that the argument was better constructed--the looseness being the inevitable result of recycling individual articles into a purportedly coherent book. (The blurb's claims about _Dust_'s "sustained argument" are, alas, somewhat overstated.) Moreover, one also wonders about the whereabouts of Rutgers' proofreaders. George Eliot's Casaubon becomes "Causubon," the Scottish Enlightenment professor of law John Millar becomes "James," and the Canadian historian of racial attitudes Douglas Lorimer becomes "Lorimer Douglas" (!). Nevertheless, historians, philosophers of history, and literary scholars should find this book both thought-provoking and useful.


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