History after Historicism: Writing from within the Event

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Historicism has allowed descriptions of history that lend themselves to inclusive forms of representations, and in these global times it may seem as if any act of representation can never be broad and inclusive enough. Nevertheless, such models of history also have their costs. It is clearly the case, as Hayden White and others have demonstrated, that the historian is always to some extent implicated in a relation to his or her object, a relation which might be described as one of co-determination. It is precisely this co-determination, however,that historicism persistently represses, not only because of the difficulty of finding a language in which such interrelations can be acknowledged, but in order to constitute a questionable space of empiricist objectivity, one which supports its claim to authority. This form of denial works to produce historiography as the uncanny.

I will suggest a different mode of historical engagement, one that emphasizes not just that the historian helps constitute his or her object of study, but that the historian enters the inside of the event horizon--arguably as an actor in the event itself.


Keywords: Historicism, Uncanny, Actor, Event
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Scott Derrick

Associate Professor of English, Department of English
Humanities Division, Rice University

Houston, Texas, USA

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and have taught at Rice University since 1990-1991. I am a specialist in nineteenth- and twentieth- century U.S. literature, with interests as well in literary theory, psychoanalysis,and the study of gender and sexuality. I am the author of Monumental Anxieties: Homoerotic Desire and Feminine Influence in 19th Century U.S. Literature (Rutgers UP: 1997). My current project, has a working title of "Literature, History, and Identity: An Investigation of the Constitution of the Present in the Recent Past."

Ref: H08P0561