Thursday, 5 April 2012

Starowicz on Narrative History

Mark Starowicz has a nice letter in the March issue of the Literary Review of Canada in response to an earlier essay by Kenneth Dewar (alas the letter isn't online) He talks about the way so much academic history is written in such a way as 'to border on disdain for any reader.'

He then goes on to quote C Vann Woodward on narrative history: ' "Narrative history... is the end product of what historians do. The narrative is where they put it together and make sense of it for the reader. Other types of history - analytical, quantitative, comparative history - as important as they are, are mainly for other historians." '

This last point seems pretty fundamental because for so many academics, that is the audience: themselves.

In certain circles, these are fighting words. But then again (and not to sound too 19th centuryish) what is life without a bit of struggle?

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