Writing Histories: Raising the (Not) Dead

Today, on this Blizzaster #snOMG day of shoveling and holing up, I was reminded that some of the authors we read for class are still alive and teaching. These first few weeks of the spring semester have covered two French authors that I’ve not encountered yet, Roger Chartier and Jean-François Lyotard. At first, the content of their essays seemed so far removed from my academic experiences, that their writings may as well have been dead to me. Their research and philosophy go so beyond my frame of reference that I could barely ponder their own existences, much less those of their writings. 

I’m not sure what I need to take with me from Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, but Chartier’s On the Edge of the Cliff is an entire book of essays which we were required to acquire for the entire course (ha, sorry, couldn’t resist the internal rhyme). These authors are not for the novice to pick up without additional context.

Chartier is a visiting professor of history this semester at the University of Pennsylvania. He’s teaching a few graduate-level courses, one of which is directly related to the coursework in my Research Methods class. So what did I find online today? Behold! Charier’s syllabus! [PDF] The class is titled Problems in Early Modern History and Historiography, and we’re reading Chartier’s book precisely to discuss problems in writing histories and solutions found in research methods.

I could have gotten more context by looking through the notes and bibliography in the back of the book, but I find peering into his own class’s syllabus a bit more titillating. Goes to show what a little extra-curricular browsing might lead to!

Edit: I may not be able to read along with his syllabus this semester, but names and concepts are great to have pointed out for a more cursory scan of the literature.

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