Challenges to the Historical Status Quo

In this discussion, we will examine our last group of historical approaches. They are fairly new and in some ways still in development and often not fully understood or accepted by a number of historians. Both of these approaches grew out of the New Cultural History, but in some ways reject the empirical aspect that the New Cultural History approach still used. We also look at Postcolonial, also known as Subaltern Studies, and the use of Race as approaches to History. All of these grew out of the end of colonialism in the second half of the twentieth-century and the inclusion of people of color in ranks of historians. In some ways, these three approaches question the essentializing of the white, Western experience as a focus of History and in the creation of History. Work through the material as best you can, and pay attention to what your classmates and professor add to the conversation.  Also make sure that you give yourself enough time to read through the sources; these approaches are dense.

Please address the following questions in your initial post. Write at least a full, five sentence paragraph for each question.  The first is making sure you can define the “posts” – what are the nuances between them; the second and third questions will get you talking about how historians actually use these approaches in their work.

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1. What are the Postmodernist and Poststructuralist approaches about, according to the introduction by Caplan? How did these approaches challenge the views of the Empiricists and the Structuralists? How important is Literary Theory in making these approaches work?

2. In “Science and the Séance: Transgressions of Gender a Genre,” Judith Walkowitz used a post-structuralist and gender approach to show that the case of Georgina Weldon was really more about middle-class women challenging the dominance of professional middle class men in the public arena than the story of a women with mental health issues. Mrs. Weldon was essentially challenging gendered norms of power in her society. How did Walkowitz’s interpretation differ from that of an empiricist or structuralist who might study the same case? Did you find Walkowitz’s interpretation convincing, why or why not?

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3. History is not always written from the perspective of the dominant culture, and we see this in what has been called “Subaltern Studies”, those written by the subordinates. But due to the professional nature of the discipline, it is often difficult for the subaltern (those not of Western origin) to speak. What is Chakrabarty’s argument regarding the challenges that subaltern cultures face in getting their “voice” into the historical narrative? What does he see as the main challenges to the idea that “Indians” can “represent themselves in history”? What is he implying here? (The introduction on the postcolonial approach will help you in understanding Chakrabarty’s argument) For more information on Challenges to the Historical Status Quo :

Attachment : The other side of the story Some Reflections on New History

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