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Postmodernism for Historians (INF) [Paperback]

Callum G. Brown
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

22 Dec 2004 0582506042 978-0582506046 1

Postmodernism is an essential approach to History.  This is the first dedicated primer on postmodernism for the historian. It offers a step-by-step guide to postmodern theory, includes a guide to how historians have applied the theory, and provides a review of why its critics are wrong. In simple and clear language, it takes the reader through the chain of theory that developed in the 20th century to become now, in the early 21st century, the leading stimulant of new forms of research in History.

With separate chapters on The Sign, The Discourse, Post/Structuralism, The Text, The Self, and Morality, this book will encourage a new critical awareness of Theory when reading books of History, and when writing essays and dissertations. Armed with the principal ideas of Saussure, Barthes, Foucault, and Derrida, the historians can formulate how to combine empirical History with the excitement of fresh perspectives and new skills, merged in the new moral impetus of the postmodern condition. Designed for the beginner this is the essential postmodern starting point.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (22 Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582506042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582506046
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 16.4 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

Postmodernism is the biggest thing to hit the History profession for almost 200 years. It offers a new intellectual foundation for understanding society, history, culture and psychology. Not limited to one creed or people, position or standpoint, it has in little over 15 years shifted all kinds of presumptions about the History subject and the historian’s craft.  The result is that postmodernism has had a tectonic impact upon understanding the past. 

This is the first dedicated primer on postmodernism for the History student. Written by an enthusiast, it offers a step-by-step guide to postmodern theory, discusses how historians have used it in their research and writing, and assesses criticisms and ways of responding to them. After opening chapters surveying the essential principles of postmodernism and the legacy of the Enlightenment, Brown distils postmodern down to six main themes of study - The Sign, The Discourse, Post/Structuralism, The Text, The Self and Morality. It includes brief biographies of the leading theorists, a glossary of usable definitions of postmodern terms, and guides to further reading and online searches.

Written in a clear and accessible manner, this book shows postmodernism works for the historian and how the theory can be infused into what we all do. It will enable students to use postmodern theory in critical assessment of history books and articles, and to construct personal essay, dissertation or thesis topics. By empowering those frightened by postmodern theory and the very idea of it, the book is the ideal companion to courses on Historical Theory and Historiography. Designed for the beginner, written by an ordinary historian, Postmodernism for Historians is the essential postmodern starting point for the student of history.

Callum G. Brown is Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Dundee. He teaches and researches in the history of community ritual, personal memory and secularisation. He is author of The Death of Christian Britain (2000) and Up-helly-aa (1998).

About the Author

Callum G. Brown is Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Dundee. He teaches and researches in the history of community ritual, personal memory and secularisation. He is author of The Death of Christian Britain (2000) and Up-helly-aa (1998).


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Po-Mo Actually Accessible! 2 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
After putting it off for as long as possible I finally bit the bullet and went for it. Nervous about the usual complexities of the language used to explain Postmodernism, especially within the Historical profession, I was surprised how Brown explains the theory in such a clear and concise manner. I definitely came away from the book with a much clearer knowledge of what Postmodernism is and I have noticed the benefits to my grades! Brown is a born teacher and not patronising at all. Worth it for all undergrads everywhere!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent intro 3 Jan 2011
By Linden
Format:Paperback
A good introduction - makes very clear the key debates and does a pretty good job of demystifying the postmodern body of theory.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to Post-modernism 29 April 2011
By Ahmed Salam Ahmed - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been reading about Post-modernism for 15 years. This is the best introductory book I ever came across. The language is readable yet it covers all concepts without over-simplicity. The author is in great command of the subject matter allowing him use a very organized and logical approach in his presentation. Following all offshoots of the movement while still discussing the main figures in sufficient detail (especially Foucault)focusing on key concepts. If someone just wants to understand Post-Modernism and its main themes, they need not go any further.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful Overview 23 July 2009
By September Girl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In my teaching experience, even very smart undergraduates and MA students are puzzled by their first encounters with postmodern scholarship. Why, they ask, do people write that way? Callum Brown's Postmodernism for Historians does a good job in answering that question by systematically tracing the development of the loose constellation of ideas associated with postmodernism. The book might be very informative for people who want to engage with some of the most interesting recent literary and historical scholarship but who do not have training in cultural studies. It might also be good for anyone who has ever wondered whether postmodern scholarship is a hoax, an idea that surfaces periodically. In a fair-minded and understated way, Brown shows why people care so deeply about this approach to the world.
5.0 out of 5 stars Grad student review 25 Oct 2013
By J. Steinberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is well written, is inclusive of underlying theory, and would be a helpful to a beginning student of history.
3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Postmodernism for Historians by Callum G. Brown 10 Jun 2008
By R. Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Postmodernism for Historians" is perhaps the worst textbook I have ever read. As a history major I was hoping to find an author who has "written in a clear and accessible manner." Instead I found a book explained in the abstract and riddled with grammatical errors...cannot recommend.
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