Synopses & Reviews
From History to Theory describes major changes in the conceptual language of the humanities, particularly in the discourse of history. In seven beautifully written, closely related essays, Kerwin Lee Klein traces the development of academic vocabularies through the dynamically shifting cultural, political, and linguistic landscapes of the twentieth century. He considers the rise and fall of philosophy of history” and discusses past attempts to imbue historical discourse with scientific precision. He explores the development of the meta-narrative” and the post-Marxist view of history and shows how the present resurgence of old wordssuch as memory”in new contexts is providing a way to address marginalized peoples. In analyzing linguistic changes in the North American academy, From History to Theory innovatively ties semantic shifts in academic discourse to key trends in American society, culture, and politics.
In a series of cogent, engaging, and provocative essays, Kerwin Klein explores why and how historians turned away from social science and philosophy to seek insights from linguistics and memory. From History to Theory
is an ominous warning about the pitfalls of forsaking science for enchantment. Historians ignore it at the peril of their own profession and much else besides.”Louis S. Warren, W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western US History, University of California, Davis
"I know of no theorist or historian who has been able to travel across the waters separating American analytical philosophy and French theory more successfully than Klein. In this impressive collection of essays he manages to turn the question of history back on its European senders."Claudio Fogu, author of The Historic Imaginary: Politics of History in Fascist Italy
About the Author
Kerwin Lee Klein is Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley and is the author of Frontiers of Historical Imagination (UC Press).
Table of Contents
1. The Rise and Fall of Historiography
2. From Philosophy to Theory
3. Going Native: History, Language, and Culture
4. Postmodernism and the People without History
5. On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse
6. Remembrance and the Christian Right
Afterword: History and Theory in Our Time