Periodisation is a convenient framework for the retrospective imposition of intellectual order on the flow of events and trends. A narrative structure with distinct acts and scenes is imposed on the richness and diversity of historical material available to the historian. Sometimes turning points are obvious: there are key dates which stand out as denoting major turning points, beginnings or ends. But historians are often concerned with identifying and explaining longer trends of continuity or more gradual processes of change. Historians working in different theoretical traditions will tend to impose rather different categories on whatever they select and define as discrete historical periods. And it is often only with the benefit of hindsight that certain developments or events stand out as important.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.