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This is the essential primer on the complexities of history writing, and writing history. What is historiography? asked the American historian Carl Becker in 1938 and professional historians continue to argue over the meaning of the term. This book challenges the view of historiography as an esoteric subject by presenting an accessible and concise overview of the history of historical writing from the Renaissance to the present, focusing primarily on the US and Europe. Historiography plays an integral role in aiding undergraduate students to better understand the nature and purpose of historical analysis more generally by examining the many conflicting ways that historians have defined and approached history. By demonstrating how these historians have differed in both their interpretations of specific historical events and their definitions of history itself, this book conveys to students the interpretive character of history as a discipline and the way that the historian's context and subjective perspective influence his or her understanding of the past.
Eileen Cheng is Associate Professor in the History Faculty at Sarah Lawrence College. Her research interests include the American Revolution and the early American Republic, American and European intellectual history, and historiography. She has published numerous journal articles and one monograph - The Plain and Noble Garb of Truth: Nationalism and Impartiality in American Historical Writing.