An English Myth? Rethinking the Contemporary Value of E.H. Carr’s What is History?
In 1991 Routledge published a short, polemical work which I had written called Rethinking History.1 Meant as a very general introduction for advanced level students, it soon began to sell in large quantities in universities. As a result, Routledge asked me to write a second text developing some of the ideas essayed in Rethinking History, aimed this time directly at the undergraduate market. In Rethinking History I had taken a very general swipe at the kinds of ideas put forward in some of the most popular introductions to The Nature of History’ (Warwick, Tosh, Stanford et al.)2 in order to open up a gap for the insertion of postmodern approaches. The thinking behind my second book — On ‘What is History?’ From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White3 — was thus part of my continuing project to make some space for the kinds of approaches to history I thought valuable, this time at the expense of ‘getting rid of’ that famous old duo E.H. Carr and Geoffrey Elton, and replacing them with postmodern thinking of the type advocated by Richard Rorty and Hayden White.
KeywordsHistorical Fact Historical Knowledge Historical Truth Epistemological Argument Historical Progress
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.K. Jenkins, Rethinking History (London: Routledge, 1991).Google Scholar
- J. Tosh, The Pursuit of History, second edition (Longman, 1992)Google Scholar
- M. Stanford, Companion to History (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).Google Scholar
- 3.K. Jenkins, On ‘What is History?’ From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (London: Routledge, 1995).Google Scholar
- 4.E.H. Carr, What is History? (London: Macmillan, 1961), edition used here: second edition (London: Penguin, 1987 (1990))Google Scholar
- G. Elton, The Practice of History (1967) (London: Fontana, 1969).Google Scholar
- 5.D. LaCapra, History and Criticism (London: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 137.Google Scholar
- 9.G. McLennan, Marxism and the Methodologies of History (London: Verso, 1981), p. 103.Google Scholar
- 10.H. Kozicki, ed., Developments in Modern Historiography (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), pp. 107–38.Google Scholar
- 13.R. Porter, ed., Myths of the English (Oxford: Polity Press, 1992), p. 7.Google Scholar
- 26.H. White, ‘The Modernist Event’ in V. Sobchack, ed., The Persistence of History (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 17–38, p. 21.Google Scholar