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History and Historiography
History, in its broadest sense, is the totality of all past events. Historiography is the written record of what is known of human lives and societies in the past and how historians have attempted to understand and interpret them. The term historiography also refers to the theory and history of historical writing. Of all the fields of serious study history may be the hardest to define precisely. The attempt to uncover past events and formulate an intelligible account of them necessarily involves the use and influenceof many auxiliary disciplines and literary forms. The concern of all serious historians has been to collect and record facts about the human past and often to discover new facts to fill up as many gaps as possible in our historical knowledge.
Historical facts can only be known through intermediary sources. These include testimony from living witnesses; narrative records, such as previous histories, memoirs, letters, and imaginative literature; the legal and financial records of courts, legislatures, religious institutions, or businesses; and the unwritten information derived from the physical remains of past civilizations, such as architecture, arts and crafts, burial grounds, and cultivated land. All these, and many more sources of information provide the evidence from which the historian deciphers historical facts.
Before the late 18th century, history was almost never an important part of regular education, and it never claimed to provide an interpretation of human life as a whole. This was more appropriately the function of religion, of philosophy, even perhaps of poetry and other imaginative literature. The historian's education was that of any cultivated man: careful reading of general literature, followed by the study of rhetoric, the art of fluent and persuasive use of language that dominated ancient higher education. The ideal historian would combine rigorous truthfulness and freedom from bias with the gift of developed expression. As examples of literary art, early historical accounts are interesting and dramatically unified.
Modern historians aim to reconstruct a record of human activities and to achieve a more profound understanding of them. This conception is quite recent, dating from the late 18th and early 19th centuries when history aligned with other modern sciences as an independent academic discipline with its own critical method and approach, requiring rigorous preparation. The historian must respect the facts, avoid ignorance and error as far as possible, and create a convincing, intellectually satisfying interpretation.
Furthermore, in the 20th century the scope of history has expanded immeasurably, in time, as archaeology and anthropology have provided knowledge of earlier ages, and in breadth, as field of inquiry entirely unknown in the past (such as economic history, psychohistory, history of ideas, of family structures, and of peasant societies) have emerged and refined their methods and goals. To many scholars, national history has come to seem an outmoded, culture-bound approach, although history written on thoroughly international assumptions is extremely difficult to achieve.
Historians have looked more and more to the social sciences — sociology, psychology, anthropology, and economics — for new methods and forms of explanation; the sophisticated use of quantitative data has become the accepted approach to economic and demographic studies. The influence of Marxist theories of economic and social development remains vital and contentious, as does the application of psychoanalytic theory to history.
4 Find in the text the English equivalents to the following Russian words:
доказательство, свидетельство; расшифровать; крестьянские общества; устаревший, вышедший из моды; собирать и записывать; избегать равнодушия; границы, рамки; разработать и усовершенствовать; убедительная интерпретация
5 Give the Russian equivalents to the following English words and phrases:
quantitative data; international assumptions; vital and contentious; to uncover and formulate; intermediary sources; has expanded immeasurably; rigorous preparation; culture-bound approach; to achieve
6 Answer the following questions:
1) What is Historiography in a few words?
2) Why is history the hardest to define precisely?
3) What was the main interest of all serious historians?
4) What kinds of testimony do intermediary sources include?
5) What disciplines provided an interpretation of human life as a whole?
6) What education did a historian have?
7) What is the goal of modern historians?
8) In what way did history change as a science in 20th century?
9) How did Marxist theories influence history?
10) What is history? (You may give your own definition).
7 Complete the following statements:
1) The term Historiography is closely connected with………..
2) Historical facts can be………
3) Many more sources of information provide…………
4) History wasn`t …………….. before the late 18th century.
5) The ideal historian combines………….
6) Early historical accounts are…………
7) The historian must………
8) The entirely unknown fields of history in the past were………….
9) National history seems to be…………
10) The sophisticated use of quantitative data was……….
8 Express your agreement or disagreement with the following statements:
1) Historiography is a science which studies history of historical writing.
2) Facts about the human past are the most important concerns of historians.
3) Written testimonies are the only sources of historical facts.
4) History was an important part of education in the past.
5) A usual historian`s education was reading of general literature, the study of rhetoric and fluent use of language.
6) History has become an independent science with its own method and approach in the late 18th - early19th centuries.
7) Since 19th century history hasn`t changed at all.
8) Social sciences like psychology, anthropology, and economics greatly influenced history and helped to find new methods and approaches.
9 Retell the text.
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