Cultural History and Postmodernity by Mark Poster

By Mark Poster

Poster charts the circulate from social historical past to new practices of cultural heritage which are drawing energy from poststructuralist interpretive concepts and elevating concerns present in feminist and postcolonial discourse. He presents shut readings of Lawrence Stone; Fran?ois Furet, Michel de Certeau and Michel Foucault.

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Some deconstructionists, for example, begin and end with texts and yet claim somehow to have always already accounted for historysociety-politics (all of which often appear in their writing as an undifferentiated list) in the margins of texts. Many historians have been suspicious of poststructuralist positions, which appear to them to be reincarnations of the formalist anti-Marxism and substantive conservatism of New Criticism. On the rare occasion when deconstructionists venture beyond the boundaries of the text, such historians complain, the results are often disappointing, if not genuinely disturbing.

By erasing this difference, the rational subject is discursively installed in both the past and the present. What is called historical explanation is a discourse with political effects: the discourse discovers "truth" as explanation, and this explanation affirms the rationality of the historian, of the discipline of history. History, then, is a discursive strategy that has as one of its effects the installation and support of a centered subject and its political positions, be they liberal or Marxist.

In favor of an almost instantaneous configuration in which the observer and the observed are roughly linked, confused, and chained by an encoded language" (p. 52). With this altered cultural context the very conditions of being an individual appear as historically constructed and thus as a topic of historical investigation. Aqents uersus Texts With such new cultural formations spreading every moment to more and more social locations, having increasing influence on the identities of individuals, we may well ask how the discipline of history is to account for them and come to terms with them.

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