History: What & Why?: Ancient, Modern and Postmodern by Beverley Southgate

By Beverley Southgate

Background: What and Why? is an introductory survey of the character and objective of background. Beverley Southgate argues that the conventional version of the topic as a re-discovery of the prior `as it was once' has now been outdated. it's been effectively challenged through advancements in different disciplines, equivalent to linguistics, psychology and philosophy, including the paintings of Marxist, feminist and post-colonial historians. This ebook combines a old point of view with a transparent consultant to present debates in regards to the nature of background. It proposes a favorable function for historic examine within the postmodern period.

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An account of the Trojan War had been passed on by word of mouth long before the poet Homer committed it to writing, and both the oral and written traditions of that 28 Why history? Past answers 29 history were no doubt primarily intended to give ‘amusement’ to the listeners and readers. Other countries and cultures, too, have maintained links with their past by means of such informal ‘historians’, and some continue to do so. So, for example, in the main square of Marrakesh in the late twentieth century, a historian, or teller of traditional tales, still regularly entertains a circle of variously aged Moroccans; and that sight could be paralleled in many other places.

20 The moral order duly illustrated by these examples is, of course, strictly Christian, and a slight problem is revealed by Wheare in relation to the history of earlier pre-Christian periods. Early Christians themselves could maintain their approval of such Greek philosophers as Socrates and Plato, whose thought could effectively be assimilated into Christianity; but they had to concede nonetheless that something in those ‘honorary’ Christians must be lacking. Without the benefit of Christ, they must surely have suffered some disadvantages.

His aspiration to bear witness and to publish a true record of events in the face of uncomprehending disbelief, has been paralleled in the twentieth century by survivors and reporters of some of the horrors of the Second World War. The charismatic envoy from the Polish resistance forces, Jan Karski, hoped in 1944 that through his personal account ‘the free peoples all over the world will be able to form an objective opinion as to how the Polish people reacted during the years of German conquest’; and Primo Levi has recorded that he was determined to survive the Auschwitz death-camp, ‘with the precise purpose of recounting the things we had witnessed and endured’.

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