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The Houses Of History, By Anna Green And Kathleen Troup

1098 words - 4 pages

In The Houses of History, many different schools of historical thought are presented and light in shed on what exactly it means to be those different types of historians. Not all historians think the same way or approach history from the same perspective, but some similar groups of thought have converged together and have formed the various types of historians that will be presented, such as empiricists, psychohistorians, oral historians, and gender historians. All of these groups can approach the same event or concept and look at them in an entirely different way simply due to the way the historical approach they are accustomed to views things.
A beginning group of historians to take a closer look at is the empiricists. The empiricists have a very strictly factual and logical view on history and how to examine it. They believe that past is both “observable and verifiable” and that through adherence to three strict principles, the past can be represented objectively and accurately. (Green, Troup 3) The three aforementioned principles can be summed up as: meticulously examining historical evidence and verifying the evidence with references, making sure the research is completely impartial and free of biases and prejudices, and using an inductive, or observational, method of reasoning. (Green, Troup 3) The empiricists seek to find universal historical truths through objective research and sticking to the facts.
The next group of historical thinkers is the psychohistorians. Sigmund Freud was the pioneer of psychoanalytic theory and psychohistory interprets history through psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic theory helps explain the players in history through their behavior and how they operate psychologically. Psychoanalytic theory was summarized as having 3 different components: that infancy and childhood are the times that greatest shape people in adults, all people pass through the same stages of maturation, that behavior as an adult is mostly unconscious, and that everyone experiences psychological conflicts throughout their lives. (Green, Troup 60) This type of historical approach helps historians understand the people being studied in a deeper and more personal way, by delving into what shaped the person psychologically and how that affected their behavior. One example was given where a psychohistorian examined the memoirs of a man named Abbot Guiber, and in the memoirs he wrote extensively about his childhood and upbringing which gave the historian a greater insight into society of the time and place of which he lived, society of France in the 12th century. Another prominent example has been the constant psychological analysis of Adolf Hitler, a view into his upbringing and psychological development over his lifetime which helped shed some light onto what prompted and reinforced his infamous behavior and decisions.
Another important group of historians are the oral historians. Oral history is considered to be a methodology and not a theory by...

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