Conventions of Historical Writing

Creative Histories of Witchcraft

This post is prompted by an event co-organized by the Institute of Historical Research and the Raphael Samuel Centre for Public and Creative Histories on ‘New Approaches to Writing History’.

What is new in recent historical writing?

The problem with answering this question is that historical writing has never been a fixed target. As long as there have been historians, there have been innovative writers. Historians today know better than anyone else that sometimes we need to forget what we know about the present in order to fully understand the shock of the new in the past, to imagine the impact of a Michelet, or an NZ Davis when their works first appeared.

So how can we talk meaningfully about novelty?

During the panel yesterday, I was struck by Sarah Knott‘s framing of the question around conventions. Discussing her recent ‘unconventional’ history Mother Knott drew attention to three…

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