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Reaction on Zagorin, History, the Referent, and Narrative: Reflections on Postmodernism - Term Paper Example

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Zagorin in his article History the Referent and Narrative Reflections in Postmodernism Now offers a detailed analysis of the current status of postmodernism and its stand on historiography…
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Reaction paper on Zagorin, History, the Referent, and Narrative: Reflections on Postmodernism
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"Reaction on Zagorin, History, the Referent, and Narrative: Reflections on Postmodernism"

Download file to see previous pages In addition Zagorin further argues that postmodernism skepticism and political ideology in evaluating history does not provide any reliability regarding how some historians think regarding their work, and does not sufficiently provide reliable understanding of historiography as related to formation of knowledge and deeper understanding of the past by humans. I feel Zagorin is right in that Postmodernism has been a formidable force in attacking and criticizing historians, but does not offer the required answers on how the past can be adequately conceptualized. Therefore, Zagorin utilizes historical facts in presenting a critique to the postmodernism doctrine.
My argument is largely informed by the biasness of historiography. Historicism in European historiography was defined by several aspects characteristic of postmodernism. These included the requirement of objectivity in historiography, positivism which viewed history as an objective science, and explaining human existence through laws based on factual evidence and critical reasoning. Since many narratives and thus history do not achieve the above qualities, many postmodernist historians tend to neglect them to oblivion, and claim such narratives can have no basis in informing reality or factual events in the past. For example, Zagorin observes that many nineteenth century thinkers and historians rejected the doctrine of narratives;2 specifically regarding the narrative of emancipation directed towards Marxism and communism, and the metanarrative that the two led to a redemptive process, leading through class struggles to a classless society and world order under socialism. It is important to note that most of the scholars rejecting such narratives were from the western dissent, where communism and socialism did not find any favor politically. Moreover, more Enlightenment historiographers who could be linked to postmodernism were mainly French, English, or Scottish; they had continued interests in political history in evolution of states and other political formations. The same historians advocated for emphasis on documentary sources or chronology of events; the main focus was causation, where history turned from descriptive history to explanatory history. Therefore, I believe that since Marxism as a narrative leading to social order could not satisfy the above conditions, and due to acute differences in political ideologies that shaped the historiography during the enlightenment period, the narrative of Marxism leading to social order could not thus satisfy and was thus rejected by postmodernist scholars. Therefore, I Conquer with Zagorin’s assertion that postmodernism historiography was marked by growing overt political and ideological biasness, which greatly influenced and directed work in various fields of history. In the case of Marxism, postmodernists could thus be said to construe such political biasness to a political ideology that did not share their values. Postmodernism as Zagorin explains denies realism, and dismisses any possibility of objective knowledge and truth as the goals of an inquiry. In other words, postmodernism denies any possibility of language or discourse leading to an independent world of facts, and the ability of textual meaning to define facts.3 In this ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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