Rethinking Historical Distance

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-11-06
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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This volume brings new depth to the analysis of historical distance by looking at its importance in fields that extend far beyond the usual bounds of history, including psychoanalysis and the visual and performing arts. Its sources include 19th century British sculpture, musical theatre, and late 18th and 19th century fashion plates. The book offers general introductory discussions of how historical distance might best be understood in contemporary historiography, of changing ideals of distance and proximity as they have taken shape in Western thought from the Renaissance to modernity and of historical judgments and their meanings. It includes a range of essays that explore the importance of distance in relation to a number of different problems and periods, including how the use of historical distance as a framework might offer new ways of distinguishing literary fictions from histories, or a new understanding of the changing pattern of biography over the past two centuries. The range of forms and media covered by the essays in this collection greatly expands not only ways of thinking about historical distance, but the nature and meaning of history. By incorporating this wide range of different material and an equally wide range of approaches, the volume gives the discussion of historical distance a new breadth, flexibility and importance.

Author Biography

Mark Salber Phillips teaches History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He is the author of a number of studies on distance and historical representation, including On Historical Distance (2013) and Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740-1820 (2000). Earlier publications include Questions of Tradition (2004) with Gordon Schochet, The Memoir of Marco Parenti; A Life in Renaissance Florence (P1987), and Francesco Guicciardini; The Historian's Craft (1974).

Barbara Caine is Professor of History and Head of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the history of feminism and on the relationship between biography and history. Her recent books include From Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Stracheys (2005) and Biography and History (2010).

Julia Adeney Thomas is Associate Professor of history at the University of Notre Dame, USA. She writes about photography, the environment, and historiography in Japan and comparatively. Her books include Reconfiguring Modernity: Concepts of Nature in Japanese Political Ideology (winner of the 2002 John K. Fairbank prize from the American Historical Association) and Japan at Nature's Edge, co-edited with Brett Walker and Ian Miller. Her essays on photography have appeared in The American Historical Review, History and Theory, The Journal of Asian Studies, and other journals. She is currently at work on Ever So Real: Photography's Politics in Japan, 1940-60 (forthcoming).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Re-thinking Historical Distance; Mark Salber Phillips
1. A Short History of Distance; Peter Burke
2. Historical Distance, Historical Judgment; Ivan Gaskell
3. The Travels of Fiction: Literature, Distance, and the Representation of the Past; Jürgen Pieters
4. Biography and the Question of Historical Distance; Barbara Caine
5. Close-Ups; Adam Phillips
6. 'Time Has Rendered These Allusions Natural': Re-enacting the Saint-Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1789; Matthew Lauzon
7. Parody and Re-enactment in the Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan; Carolyn Williams
8. Sir Francis Chantrey: Sculpture, History, and Geology; M.G. Sullivan
9. Photographic Calculations: Intimate Trauma and Cool Distance in Post-war Japan; Julia Adeney Thomas
10. Fashion, Microcosm, and Romantic Historical Distance; Timothy Campbell
11. 'Distance' and Settler Australia's Black History; Bain Attwood
12. Closing the Distance: Time, Historicity, and Contemporary Indigenous Art; Ruth B. Phillips

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