Since the 1970s, when Hayden White's influential work on historiography arrived in the form of the book Metahistory and the series of essays collected in Tropics of Discourse, literary scholars have often thought of the question of the legitimacy of historical narratives as constructed and contingent. Following White, literary scholars tend to dismiss empiricist claims about historical accuracy in favor of a recognition of the narrative structure and formal strategies that endow certain texts and speakers with more or less of an aura of legitimacy. This turn to form raises important questions about the nature of the archive and whose voices it preserves and enfranchises, the emplotment of historical narratives, and the relationship of the scholar to the historical past and present, and prompts a reconsideration of what exactly constitutes the past other than various language acts, genres, or performances. It...
Empiricist Fictions, Fictions of Empiricism
edward larkin is professor of English at the University of Delaware, the author of Thomas Paine and the Literature of Revolution (2005), and editor of the Broadview edition of Paine's Common Sense. His new book, The American School of Empire, is forthcoming from Cambridge UP.
Edward Larkin; Empiricist Fictions, Fictions of Empiricism. Novel 1 August 2016; 49 (2): 372–375. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3509147
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