History And Biography Essay

717 Words3 Pages
History and Biography Narrative is an integral aspect of an effective historical composition. An effective narrative can provide important sensory details that analysis may omit. David Hackett Fischer conveys, “To reconstruct a series of happenings, the best and only instrument is narrative.” Even so, many historians still struggle with the agency of narrative in scholarly works. Similar sentiments are paid to the genre of biography in a historical context. Biography is equally controversial, as many historians have dissenting opinions regarding its usage as well as its formal definition. The standard definition of narrative is a story that contains a beginning, middle and end. It is likewise important that this story…show more content…
Scholars believe that emphasis placed on the individual directs attention away from more important questions of broader causes and developments. Such conversations point to the agency of the individual, do they have historical agency? Biography in a historical context in general relies less on the emphasis on personality. Writing in other disciplines employ personality as a stylistic mechanism. Historical writing, while it may use some stylistic techniques should emphasize credible sources and interpretation that can blend with narrative. Furthermore, the historical cornerstone “objectivity” may be endangered when personality is examined. To many historians today, and certain to the empiricists of the (), objectivity needed to be as present as possible to fashion an effective piece. In general, biography is more often than not seen as an inferior form of historical analysis. Historians like Barbara Caine argue biography should, “Commemorate the life of an individual” and should “Evaluate the deeds of significant, public men.” Furthermore, Scottish philosopher of the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle commended biography for presented historical figures as ‘real beings, which were once alive, beings of his own flesh and blood, not mere shadows and dim abstractions.” ADD…show more content…
However, it is important as a historian, to keep these mechanisms in check and maintain the tenants of historical writing. As evidenced in this analysis, centuries of historians have grappled with the treatment of these genres. Some argue that analysis is superior to narrative and others believe that narrative is the most important aspect of a successful composition. Similar dissent has taken place regarding the importance of biography in history. Whether the importance of the individual or a broader theme in history or a specific event, it seems as though historians should be left to form their own opinions as long as the necessary bones of historical writing

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