From History to Theory

From History to Theory

Kerwin LeeKlein

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780520268814

Publisher: University of California Press


This book describes major changes in the conceptual language of the humanities, particularly in the discourse of history. The chapters trace the development of academic vocabularies through the dynamically shifting cultural, political, and linguistic landscapes of the twentieth century. It considers the rise and fall of the “philosophy of history” and discusses past attempts to imbue historical discourse with scientific precision. The book explores the development of the “meta-narrative” and the post-Marxist view of history and shows how the present resurgence of old words—such as “memory”—in new contexts is providing a way to address marginalized peoples. In analyzing linguistic changes in the North American academy, this book ties semantic shifts in academic discourse to key trends in American society, culture, and politics.