In the classic microhistorical mode, this article begins with the tale of the author's quirky, accidental entry into microhistory. It then frames his own practice in the social history of the 1980s, before moving to an apologia for microhistory not as a field but as a practice. The article posits five further traits of microhistory: its insistence on the dense connectedness of things; its professed ignorance or very partial knowledge; its invitation to the reader to share doubt; its bridled intimacy with the elusive past; its half-baffled engagement with story as device and historical fact. The article then ponders the utility of microhistory for newer lines of inquiry since the linguistic turn flowed and began to ebb, considering agency, materiality, the body, the new spatial turn, experience, and time, and finally proposing the value of microhistory for the macroquestions of globalizing scholarship.
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1 January 2017
Thomas V. Cohen; The Macrohistory of Microhistory. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 January 2017; 47 (1): 53–73. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-3716578
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