The Stories of History: Questioning the Historical Narrative
Richardson-Rossbach, Emily Elizabeth
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My questions and argument focus on where historians should draw the line between historical fact and creative speculation. If written histories are supposed to be purely factual, to what extent should the possibilities, speculations, or half-truths be integrated into those works? Is there a difference in the way that academic historians and popular historians use historical narrative? I try to answer these questions by using several case studies to assess the critical response of scholars to controversial presentations using historical narrative. I assert that according to their scholastic status as historian, academic historians and popular historians differ in the way they use historical narrative. Academic historians are able to engage questions of historical methodology by using a narrative structure, while historians writing for the general public use narrative primarily to engage the reader and influence their audience. The larger historiography of questions surrounding historical narrative include examinations of the narrative structure itself, trying to address whether history can be represented in a narrative fashion at all. Although I explore the question of impositionalism to a certain extent, the theories remain largely outside the scope of this paper.