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The Oxford History of Historical WritingVolume 5: Historical Writing Since 1945$
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Axel Schneider and Daniel Woolf

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225996

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199225996.001.0001

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French Historical Writing

French Historical Writing

(p.266) Chapter 13 French Historical Writing
The Oxford History of Historical Writing

Matthias Middell

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces French historiography, which counts among the most professionalized in the world, influencing global trends in the interpretation of the Middle Ages, of early modern social and political developments, of the French Revolution, of contemporary history, and of the comparison of civilizations and the history of colonial empires. The ‘professionalization’ of French historiography dates back to the nineteenth century, and included not only the creation of an institutional setting that gave rise to a highly differentiated discipline, but also an intense search for new methods among historians that guaranteed innovation and resistance to the ongoing process of fragmentation. The label ‘Annales School’ reduced a diversity of practices to the straightforward opposition of old-fashioned ‘positivist’ historiography versus a new historiography. Internationally, it influenced the image of French historiography to such a degree that the ‘Annales’ became identified with the most valuable contributions by French historians to the discipline.

Keywords:   French historiography, Annales School, positivist historiography, new historiography

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