Historiography

“Now that I am old the most intriguing aspect of history turns out to be neither the study of history nor history itself … but rather the study of the history of historical study. The name given to this aspect of history is … Historiography.”
– Carl Becker (1938)[1, p.21]

The study of historical method is known as historiography. Becker summarizes the field well in his comment quoted above. To expand upon his comment, historiography is the study of the development of the methods which have been utilized by historians throughout the centuries. Where history is the study of past events, historiography is the study of how people have studied past events. What methods did they employ? What theology or philosophy influenced their narratives? This field provides insight into how conclusions have been formed and where improvements can be made.

“The eighteenth century, commonly hailed as the era of the birth of modern historiography, is less noted as the age also of the demise of chronology as a traditional historical form.”
– James William Johnson (1962)[2, p.124]

I hadn’t heard of the 18th century being hailed as “the demise of chronology as a traditional historical form” prior to reading Johnson’s quote. I would say that it is still in relative ruins today in 2020 of the 21st century. Anthony Grafton reported “It seems seems safe to assume that chronology will never again become fashionable.”[6]

“…historiography first emerged as a legitimate subject of historical inquiry in the United States during the period from 1890 to the 1930s by focusing on the practice of historiography by three of the most influential American historiographers whose work spans this period: J. Franklin Jameson, John Spencer Bassett, and Harry Elmer Barnes.”
– Eileen Ka-May Cheng (2008)[3, p.200]

“No one will deny that our concept of history today rests upon the creations of the Biblical mind modified by the Hellenic sense of epic and dramatic form, nor will they deny that it is always universal history, whatever else it may be.”
– Burr C. Brundage (1954)[4, p.386]

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References:

[1] – Becker, Carl. “What Is Historiography?” The American Historical Review, vol. 44, no. 1, 1938, pp. 20–28. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1840848. Accessed 19 Aug. 2020.

[2] – Johnson, James William. “Chronological Writing: Its Concepts and Development.” History and Theory, vol. 2, no. 2, 1962, pp. 124–145. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2504459. Accessed 19 Aug. 2020.

[3] – Cheng, Eileen Ka-May. “Exceptional History? The Origins of Historiography in the United States.” History and Theory, vol. 47, no. 2, 2008, pp. 200–228. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25478745. Accessed 19 Aug. 2020.

[4] – Brundage, Burr C. “The Crisis of Modern Historiography.” The Christian Scholar, vol. 37, no. 3, 1954, pp. 385-395. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41176818. Accessed 20 Aug. 2020.

[5] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historiography. Accessed 5 Sept. 2020.

[6] – https://www.amacad.org/publication/dating-history-renaissance-reformation-chronology. Accessed 18 Sept. 2020.

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