New Directions in European Historiography
In four impressively researched essays Georg Iggers recounts the transformation of historical studies in Europe during the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the historiography of the past fifteen years. Although the book does survey a broad area of contemporary historical thought, it is primarily a careful analytical examination of the methodological and theoretical reorientation of certain influential European historians.
The first essay discusses the emergence at German Universities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of the concept of history as a scientific discipline, distinct from the classical tradition of literary history, and the later broad acceptance of this mode of Enquiry in the Western world. Against this background Mr. Iggers then considers the challenge to this mode of the political, social, and intellectual upheavals of the twentieth century, especially after World War II.
The three essays following examine important attempts to develop alternate paradigms for historical study: the French historians of the Annales tradition; the German political historians of the 1960s; the various Marxist historians of France, Poland, East Germany, and Great Britain.
In despite of the frequent insistence by philosophers and theorists of history that history is not a science in contemporary terms, historians themselves have striven in recent years to strengthen the quantitative aspects of historical study, moving away from traditional patterns of writing and adopting methods and concepts from the systematic social sciences. Mr. Iggers' book is an excellent introduction to these contemporary changes in historiography, and in its comparative analyses itself makes a contribution to historical studies.
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