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Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge [Paperback]

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Item description for Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge by Georg G. Iggers...

In this book, now published in 10 languages, a preeminent intellectual historian examines the profound changes in ideas about the nature of history and historiography. Georg G. Iggers traces the basic assumptions upon which historical research and writing have been based, and describes how the newly emerging social sciences transformed historiography following World War II. The discipline's greatest challenge may have come in the last two decades, when postmodern ideas forced a reevaluation of the relationship of historians to their subject and questioned the very possibility of objective history. Iggers sees the contemporary discipline as a hybrid, moving away from a classical, macrohistorical approach toward microhistory, cultural history, and the history of everyday life. The new epilogue, by the author, examines the movement away from postmodernism towards new social science approaches that give greater attention to cultural factors and to the problems of globalization.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wesleyan
Pages   198
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 31, 2004
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819567663  
ISBN13  9780819567666  

Availability  5 units.
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More About Georg G. Iggers

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! GEORG G. IGGERS is an internationally recognized authority on intellectual history and comparative international historiography. He is the author of New Directions in Historiography (1975, 1985) and The German Conception of History (1968, 1983), both published by Wesleyan University Press. Iggers is Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Georg G. Iggers has an academic affiliation as follows - State University of New York at Buffalo, USA.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Historical Study > Historiography
2Books > Subjects > History > World > 20th Century
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge?

Liberal and broad, but imprecise  Mar 1, 2008
Excellent overview of 20th century historiography, and particularly impressive in its dealings with German and Eastern European works. Well-suited for teaching and study; Iggers takes all trends and ideas seriously. My only reservation is that the term "postmodern" is used to cover almost everything that has been written the last 40 years -- leaving the term hopelessly wide, and many categorizations pretty meaningless.
An excellent and well-written overview.  Dec 23, 2002
One of the great revelations I had in college many, many years ago occurred in the stacks of the library. I was doing some research on Wilhelm Dilthey and found myself looking at several thousands of books devoted to the history of philosophy. At that moment I began to have some idea on how difficult it is to acquire a magisterial overview of any field of inquiry. It takes a lifetime of study and the mastery of several languages to develop have such an overview. And sadly, that knowledge sometimes gets pored into a book that relatively few people ever read.
This book by Georg Iggers represents that level of learning. Iggers specializes in German intellectual history but has read deeply in the historical work done in Italy, France, England and the U.S. of A. as well.
What he is trying to do in the brief book (147 pages of text, 23 pages of footnotes) is to give an overview of the most influential approaches to history of the last century. His work is divided three main parts. The first section covers the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th. This period is dominated by the influence of Ranke and his ideas. Iggers also discusses the influence of Weber, Troeltsch, Meinecke, Karl Lambrecht, Parrington, Beard, Becker and many others that were involved in these early disputes. Obviously, Iggers can only cover a few of these people in any sort of depth but he seems to have a gift for summarizing the main point of a debate in a few lines.
One note of caution: with any such survey, I cannot help but wonder how accurately the author is expressing the views of those s/he is writing about. Iggers interprets Dilthey in a way that I disagree with but which is common enough. This is the only time in this book that I found myself disagreeing with his presentation except for that on Hayden White. More on that later.
The second part of the book covers the period just before and after WW II when the other social sciences began to make their influence felt in way history was practiced. Iggers talks at length about the body of work surrounding the journal, Annals . He also covers the work of the Historical Social Science school in Germany (Hans Wehler, Eckert Kehr, and Jurgen Kocka among others) as well as Marxist historiography from that period (people like Maurice Godelier in France, E.P. Thompsom and Christopher Hill in England).
This second part of the book was the most informative for me. I was ignorant of many of the Germans and obviously haven't paid enough attention to the work of Braudel. Iggers is great for orienting yourself to explore some of these schools of history.
The last section is on the postmodern critique of history, the development of schools of microhistory, and the rise of schools of history focusing on women or ethnicities that are outside the grand narrative of Western History.
I found the most interesting subsection to be that on the Italian school of microhistory. Carlo Ginzberg is probably the best known proponent to those of us who can only read English. Proponents of this school feel that large scale theories about history do not represent accurately the life experience of the actual actors of history. Their focus is on a much smaller scale- the semiotics of a village during the lifetime of one person.
And now for Hayden White. I have never been able to read Metahistory. That may be more of a reflection on my inadequacies as a reader rather than White's as a writer. Iggers summarizes White's argument as something along the lines of all historical writing must use the same rhetorical devices of emplotment as does fiction therefore it has no more truth value than fiction. If this is really what White's argument amounts to, it borders on the absurd. I find myself wanting to give White another try just to confirm my suspicion that this does not really represent his argument adequately.
This is a bit of a quibble however in regards to this excellent volume by Iggers. This survey could profitably be read by most sophomores or juniors majoring in history or philosophy in college. The writing is clear, the scholarship is daunting (especially in regards to the German historians) and the presentation is pithier than my review (sigh). Iggers may be a little unfair to some of those he discusses but he does his job as well as it can be done, I suspect. It really is up to the reader to go from there.
As for myself, even though I have read in the philosophy of history off and one for over twenty five years, I still learned quite a bit. If nothing else, I was reminded about just how little I really know
excellent  Jul 22, 2001
It narrates the historiographical approach in an unbiased way. It helps an average student to realize the history of historical writing in modern world.
Trends in history  Feb 16, 2000
Iggers examines basic trends in how history is written. The book looks at how social sciences transformed historiography after WWII. Iggers describes a trend in the postmodern discipline towards a microhistory, cultural history as well as the history of the common man. An interesting read.
An excellent introduction to historiography.  Oct 16, 1997
Written in a clear, unpretentious style. The perfect gift for a postgraduate history student.

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