Historicism (Fall 2002)


Prospectus (organized by Zack Lesser, Lauren Goodlad and Michael Rothberg):
The historical approach is surely one of the dominant modes of inquiry across the disciplines, but while we continue to practice historicism in various ways, current debates have also questioned many of our assumptions about this practice. This seems a good time, therefore, to re-read (or read) some of the classic texts of modern historicism with an eye towards advancing contemporary debates. We imagine structuring the seminar around five broad issues in historicism that raise important critical, theoretical, and methodological questions. 

All Criticism Seminar meetings will take place every other Monday at 8pm in the IPRH Building at 805 West Pennsylvania Avenue.

September 16: History and/vs Genealogy

  • Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life”

  • Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”

  • Fredric Jameson, “Marxism and Historicism”

September 30: Narrativity

  • Hayden White, Preface and Introduction from Metahistory

  • Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (in Illuminations)

October 14: The Archive and Evidence

  • Stephen Greenblatt & Catherine Gallagher, “Counterhistory and the Anecdote”

  • James Chandler, pp. 32-42, plus the first chapter (on "Cultural Specificity after Structuralism") from England in 1819

  • Quentin Skinner, “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas”

October 28: Causality:

  • Louis Althusser, “Marx's Immense Theoretical Revolution”

  • Karl Popper, selections from The Poverty of Historicism

  • E. P. Thompson, selections from The Poverty of Theory

November 11: The Politics of Historicism

  • Joan Scott, “Experience,” in Feminists Theorize the Political

  • Dan Diner, “Historical Understanding and Counterrationality”

  • Michel-Rolph Trouillot, selections from Silencing the Past