Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Historiography of the sciences

Nick Jardine

'Historiography' is often used in a broad sense to cover all aspects of the philosophy, theory, pursuit and writing of history. It is also applied more specifically to historical writing, past and present. This list focusses on issues likely to be of interest to historians and philosophers of science. It contains relatively little on general historiography/philosophy of history, and it does not deal with technical aspects of the historians' craft – palaeography, diplomatics, source criticism, making a database, &c.

General historiography

A very useful general guide is M. Bentley, Companion to Historiography, London 1997 (in Whipple Library). History and Theory is the only specifically historiographical journal in the Whipple. Past and Present often has debates on historiographical issues; and more radical perspectives are to be found in History Workshop (in Whipple). There is a comprehensive, if somewhat outdated, bibliography: S. K. Kinnell (ed.), Historiography: an Annotated Bibliography of Journal Articles, Books and Dissertations, Santa Barbara 1987.

Classic declarations on the nature, methods and purposes of histories include:

  • E. H. Carr, What is History?, London 1962.
  • G. Elton, The Practice of History, Sydney 1967.
  • M. Bloch, The Historian's Craft [1949] transl. P. Putnam, New York 1954, Manchester 1992.
  • R. G. Collingwood, An Autobiography [1939] Oxford 1970; The Idea of History, [1946] Oxford 1993.
  • M. Oakeshott, 'What is History?' [1933] in What is History? And Other Essays, ed. L. O'Sullivan, Exeter 2004.
  • F. Braudel, On History [1969], transl. S. Matthews, Chicago 1980.

For more recent perspectives see, for example:

  • M. de Certeau, The Writing of History [1975], transl. T. Conly, New York 1988.
  • L. Hunt (ed.), The New Cultural History, Berkeley 1989.
  • C. Ginzburg, Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method [1986], Baltimore 1989.
  • J. Tosh, The Pursuit of History, 2nd ed. London 1991.
  • P. Burke (ed.), New Perspectives on Historical Writing, Cambridge 1991, and The French Historical Revolution, Cambridge 1991.
  • R. J. Evans, In Defence of History, London 1997 (a lively condemnation of postmodern follies).
  • L. Jordanova, History in Practice, London 2000.
  • M. L. G. Pallares-Burke, The New History, Cambridge 2002.

History of historiography

The literature is vast, and there is a journal devoted to the topic, Storia della Storiografia: History of Historiography. Of particular interest are:

  • H. E. Barnes, A History of Historical Writing, second ed. New York 1962 (an elementary guide).
  • D. R. Kelley, Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship, New York 1970.
  • R. Koselleck, Futures Past [1979], transl. by K. Tribe, New York 2004.
  • P. Novick, That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge 1988.
  • S. Bann, The Inventions of History. Essays on the Representation of the Past, Manchester 1991 (a splendid book).
  • E. Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, Chicago 1994.
  • M. Kintzinger, Chronos und Historia. Studien zur Titelblattikonographie historiographischer Werke vom 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert, Wiesbaden 1995 (a fascinating history of titlepage allegorical representations of history).
  • P. Hamilton, Historicism, London 1996.
  • G. C. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge, Hanover, NH 1997.
  • A. Grafton, What was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe, Cambridge 2007 (a must for early-modernists).

Philosophy of history

The term 'philosophy of history' is often used for the grand schemes of historical development associated with such names as Vico, Hegel and Comte. The following works deal with more modest problems concerning the nature of historical knowledge and explanation. This is a selection from a vast literature. Older treatments include:

  • P. Gardiner (ed.), Theories of History, Glencoe 1959, articles in Part 2.
  • A. C. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History, Cambridge 1965.
  • L. J. Goldstein, Historical Knowing, Austin, TX 1976.

More recent works are:

  • M. Stanford, The Nature of Historical Knowledge, Oxford 1986.
  • G. Hawthorne, Plausible Worlds, Cambridge 1991.
  • A. Tucker, Our Knowledge of the Past. A Philosophy of Historiography, Cambridge 2004.

A Journal of the Philosophy of History started in 2007.

Historiography of the sciences

The only general work known to me is H. Krag, Introduction to the Historiography of Science, Cambridge 1987; it is not very useful. The Isis bibliography has a section 'Historiography and methodology'. An excellent view of the state of the art in the 1980s is 'What is the history of science' (contributions from Cooter, Crosland, Easlea, Gooding, Hall, Hendry, Pickstone, Young, Shapin, Schaffer, Ziman, Porter), History Today, 35 (1985), copy in a box in the Whipple L. A useful overview is M. Shortland and A. Warwick (eds), Teaching the History of Science, Oxford 1989. Two excellent collections on historiography of the sciences are: J. Secord (ed.), The Big Picture, special issue of the British Journal for the History of Science, 26 (1993), and A. Thackray (ed.), Constructing Knowledge in the History of Science, special issue of Osiris, 10 (1995).

History of history of the sciences

On the remote origins of histories of the science see L. Zhmud, The Origin of the History of Science in Classical Antiquity, Berlin 2006. On early-modern origins see the special section on 'Histories of Science in Early-Modern Europe' edited by R. Goulding in Journal of the History of Ideas, 67 (2006). The only really substantial work on the nineteenth century consolidation of history of science as a discipline is, alas, in German: D. von Engelhardt, Historisches Bewusstsein in der Naturwissenschaft von der Aufklärung bis zum Positivismus, Freiburg 1979. On the formation of the history of science as a discipline see also A. Thackray, 'History of science', in Durbin (ed.), A Guide to the Culture of Science, Technology and Medicine, New York 1980, and P. Corsi, 'History of Science, history of philosophy and history of theology', in P. Corsi and Weindling (eds), Information Sources in the History of Science and Technology, London 1983. On the formation of history of science at Cambridge, see: J. A. Bennett, 'Museums and the Establishment of the History of Science at Oxford and Cambridge', British Journal for the History of Science, 30, 1997, 29-46; S. De Renzi, 'Between the Market and the Academy: Robert S. Whipple (1871-1953) as a Collector of Science Books', in R. Myers and M. Harris (eds) Medicine, Mortality and the Book Trade, Folkestone 1998, 87-108; A.-K. Mayer, 'Setting up a Discipline: Conflicting Agendas of the Cambridge History of Science Committee, 1936-1950', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 31, 2000, 151-186.

Polemical uses of histories of the sciences

  • T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago 1962, Ch. 11.
  • L. Graham, W. Lepenies and P. Weingart (eds), Functions and Uses of Disciplinary Histories, Dordrecht 1983 (especially introduction and articles by Galison, Laudan and Ash).
  • J. Martin, 'Explaining John Friend's History of Physic', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 19 (1988), 399-418.
  • N. Jardine, The Scenes of Inquiry: On the Reality of Questions in the Sciences, Oxford 1991, Ch. 6: 'Legitimation and History'.
  • S. G. Brush, 'Scientists as historians', Osiris, 10 (1995), 215-31.
  • M. Shortland and R. Yeo (eds), Telling Lives in Science, Cambridge 1996.
  • N. Jardine, 'The mantle of Müller and the ghost of Goethe', in D. R. Kelley (ed.), Discipline and History, (Rochester, 1997), 297-317.
  • P. G. Abir-Am and C. A. Elliott (eds) Commemorative Practices in Science, Osiris, special issue, 14, 1999.

On the debate on presentism and anachronism

  • R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History, Oxford 1946, Part 5.
  • Q. Skinner, 'Meaning and understanding in the history of ideas', History and Theory, 8 (1969), 3-53.
  • J. G. A. Pocock, 'The state of the art', intro to Virtue, Commerce and History, Cambridge 1985.
  • A. Wilson and T. Ashplant, 'Present centered history and the problem of historical knowledge', The Historical Journal, 31 (1988), 253-74 (copy in folder).
  • A. Cunningham, 'Getting the game right: some plain words on the identity and invention of science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 19 (1988), 365-89.
  • D. C. Lindberg and R. Westman, introduction to Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution, Cambridge 1990.
  • J. Rae, 'The Vanity of Historicism', New Literary History, 22 (1991), 961-83.
  • N. Jardine, 'Uses and Abuses of Anachronism', History of Science, 38, 2000; 'Whigs and Stories: Herbert Butterfield and the Historiography of Science', History of Science, 41 (2003), 125-140; 'Etics and Emics (not to mention Anemics and Emetics) in the History of the Sciences', History of Science, 42 (2004), 261-278.
  • N. Tosh, 'Anachronism and retrospective explanation: in defence of a present-centred history of science', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 34 (2003), 647-659.

Anthropological and cultural geographical resources

  • C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, New York 1973.
  • P. Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice [1975], Cambridge 1977.
  • H. Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnometodology [1967] Cambridge 1984.
  • M. de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, transl. S. Rendall, Berkeley 1984.
  • M. Biagioli, Galileo Courtier, Chicago 1994 (makes fascinating use of anthropological categories).
  • D. O. Hughes and T. R. Trautmann, eds, Time: Histories and Ethnologies, Ann Arbor 1995.
  • C. Smith and J. Agar, eds, Making Space for Science. Territorial Themes in the Shaping of Knowledge, New York 1998.
  • P. Galison and E. Thompson, The Architecture of Science, Cambridge, MA 1999.
  • D. N. Livingstone, Putting Science in its Place. Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, Chicago 2003.

Historiography of other disciplines

Short list of inspiring works

  • C. Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History [1977], Cambridge 1983 (a classic).
  • M. Baxandall, Patterns of Intention: On the Historical Explanation of Pictures, New Haven 1985 (another classic).
  • R. Rorty et al. (eds), Philosophy in History: Essays on the Historiography of Philosophy, Cambridge 1984.
  • H. A. Veesser (ed.), The New Historicism, New York 1989 (on literary history).

Theory of interpretation (hermeneutics)

  • W. Dilthey, ed. R. A. Makkreel, Introduction to the Human Sciences [1883], Princeton 1989.
  • H. G. Gadamer, Truth and Method [1960], London 1975.
  • E. D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation, New Haven 1967.
  • R. A. Makkreel, Wilhelm Dilthey: Philosopher of the Human Sciences [1975], 2nd ed., Princeton 1992.
  • P. D. Juhl, Interpretation, Princeton 1980.
  • S. Fish, Is There a Text in This Class?, Harvard 1980.
  • P. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative [1983], Chicago 1984.
  • P. Szondi, On Textual Understanding and Other Essays, Manchester 1986.
  • U. Eco, The Open Work, [1962] trans. London 1989.
  • D. R. Hiley et al. (eds), The Interpretive Turn, Cornell 1991.
  • A. Wilson, 'Foundations of an integrated historiography', in Wilson (ed.), Rethinking Social History, Manchester 1993.
  • N. Jardine, The Scenes of Inquiry, 2nd ed., Oxford 2000, supplementary essays, 'Original Meanings and Historical Interpretation', 'Original Significances and Historical Explanation', 'Where Meanings were Made'.

Concepts of evidence (including historical evidence)

  • Ginzburg, 'Clues: Morelli, Freud and Sherlock Holmes', in U. Eco and T. A. Sebeok eds, Dupin, Holmes, Pearce: The Sign of Three, Bloomington, IN 1983.
  • J. Chandler et al., eds, Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice and Persuasion across the Disciplines, Chicago 1991.
  • C. A. J. Coady, Testimony, Oxford 1992.
  • S. Shapin, A Social History of Truth, Chicago 1994.
  • P. Lipton, 'The Epistemology of Testimony', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 29 (1998), 1-31.
  • B. J. Shapiro, A Culture of Fact. England 1550-1770, Ithaca 2000.
  • I. A. Burney, Medicine and the Politics of the English Inquest, 1830-1926, Baltimore, MA 2000.
  • P. Burke, Eyewitnessing: The Use of Images as Historical Evidence, London 2001.
  • R. Friedman, The Elements of Evidence, 3rd ed., St. Paul, MN 2004 (a huge standard work on legal evidence and testimony: fascinating).
  • J. Lackey and E. Sosa, eds, The Epistemology of Testimony, Oxford 2006 (especially the article by Lackey, 'It Takes Two to Tango').
  • N. Jardine, 'Historical Testimony' forthcoming (copy in folder).

Ideology and genealogy

  • P. Koselleck, Critique and Crisis [1959], Oxford 1988.
  • F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious, London 1982.
  • J. P. Thompson, Studies in the Theory of Ideology, Cambridge 1984.
  • J. Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity [1985], Cambridge 1987.
  • T. Eagleton, Ideology, London 1991.
  • R. Geuss and others, 'Symposium: On Genealogy', European Journal of Philosophy, 10 (2002) 209-245.

History of the body/self

  • M. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Sheridan, London 1975.
  • S. Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-fashioning, Chicago 1980.
  • C. Taylor, Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity, Cambridge 1989.
  • T. Laqueur, Making Sex, Harvard 1990.
  • B. S. Turner et al. (eds), The Body: Social Process and Cultural Theory, London 1991.
  • M. Pointon, Naked Authority, Cambridge 1992.
  • B. Stafford, Body Criticism, Cambridge MA 1993.
  • R. Martin and J. Barresi, The Rise and Fall of Soul and Self: An Intellectual History of Personal Identity, New York 2006.

Post-modernism and the linguistic turn

  • M. Foucault, The Order of Discourse [1971] in R. Young (ed.), Untying the Text, London 1981.
  • H. White, The Content of the Form, Baltimore 1987 or Metahistory, Baltimore 1973 (heavy going).
  • J.-F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition [1979], transl. G. Benningtons and B. Massumi, Manchester 1991.
  • P. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, Chicago 1983.
  • M. Young, White Mythologies: History Writing and the West, London 1990.
  • Z. Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity, London 1992.
  • F. Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Hammondsworth 1992 (a dreadful book which has fuelled much controversy).
  • J. Goldstein (ed.), Foucault and the Writing of History, Oxford 1994.
  • F. Ankersmit and H. Kellner (eds), A New Philosophy of History, London 1995.
  • K. Jenkins, On 'What is History?', London 1995.
  • E. Clark, History, Theory, Text: Histories and the Linguistic Turn, Cambridge 2004.

Rhetoric, narrative and historical writing

A small selection from a vast literature.

  • Comparative Criticism, vol. 3, 1981, special issue on 'Rhetoric and History', includes a translation of Roland Barthes' 1967 classic on the rhetoric of objectivity 'Le discours de l'histoire', and Stephen Bann's witty 'The historian as taxidermist'.
  • H. White, The Content of the Form, Baltimore 1987; or Metahistory, Baltimore 1973 (influential, but heavy going).
  • P. Gay, Style in History, New York 1988.
  • S. Bann, The Inventions of History, Manchester 1990 (a brilliant book).
  • P. Carrard, Poetics of the new History, Baltimore 1992.

History of mentalities, cultural history

  • N. Elias, The Court Society [1969], Oxford 1983.
  • N. Z. Davies, The Return of Martin Guerre, Cambridge, Mass. 1983; R. Darnton, The Great Cat Massacre, New York 1984 (both wonderfully readable).
  • R. Chartier, Cultural History, transl. R. G. Cockrane, Cambridge 1988.
  • C. Ginzburg, 'Clues', in Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method, transl. by J. and A. C. Tedeschi, Baltimore 1989.
  • L. Hunt (ed.), The New Cultural History, Berkeley 1989.
  • N. Jardine and E. Spary, 'The Natures of Cultural History', in Jardine, Spary and Secord (eds), Cultures of Natural History, Cambridge 1995.
  • R. Harris, Lourdes: Body and Spirit in the Secular Age, Harmondsworth 1999 (an exemplary specimen of the new cultural history).
  • P. Burke, What is Cultural History, Cambridge 2004.

Might-have-beens in history

  • J. Elster, Logic and Society: Contradictions and Possible Worlds, Chichester 1978.
  • G. Hawthorne, Plausible Worlds, Cambridge 1991.
  • P. E. Tetlock and A. Belkin (eds.), Counterfactual Thought Experiments in World Politics: Logical, Methodological, and Psychological Perspectives, Princeton 1996.
  • Niall Ferguson, Virtual History. Alternatives and Counterfactuals, London 1997.

On sociological approaches: see M. Kusch, in this collection.

On oral history of the sciences: see M. Bravo & S. Davis, in this collection.

On gender in the history of the sciences: see L. Rocha, in this collection.

On material culture of the sciences; instruments and collections: see S. De Renzi and B. Jardine in this collection.

History of the book: see A. Johns, in this collection, also M. Frasca-Spada and N. Jardine (eds) Books and the Sciences in History, Cambridge 2000.