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

Iggers, Georg G.

A preeminent intellectual historian here 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 since history's emergence as a professional discipline in the nineteenth century, 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 called into question the very possibility of objective history. Iggers sees the contemporary discipline as a hybrid, moving away from a classical, macro-historical approach toward microhistory, cultural history, and the history of everyday life. Still, while the postmodern critique of traditional historiography offers important correctives to historical thought and practice, it "has not destroyed the historian's commitment to recapturing reality or his or her belief in a logic of inquiry."

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