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Hayden White: Historic Truth as Story Telling

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Chapter Summary

Born in the hills of middle-Tennessee in 1928, as a student, Hayden White went North, to Michigan, studying first in Detroit at Wayne State University, then on to Ann Arbor for his MA and PhD in history. Before he was forty years old, White had become a challenge not only to his chosen discipline but to the political status quo as well. Although he was respected wherever he worked, for reasons immediately associated with his critical attitude he ended up being a bit of a disciplinary nomad. Since the book Metahistory is White's signature text, this chapter concentrates on it. White's objective was overtly methodological. He was perplexed with "the problem of historical knowledge" that at the time seemed to be turning historians away from their subject and against each other. White drew attention to his work by the use of uncommon vocabulary, at once baroque and grandiose.

Keywords: baroque; disciplinary nomad; grandiose; Hayden White; Metahistory; story telling



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