Lecture 11: History Writing in the 1960s and 1970s and the ‘linguistic turn’


Now, you can ask yourself? What is the blooming significance of all this?



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Now, you can ask yourself? What is the blooming significance of all this?
Significance and impact since the 1960s is enormous:
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1. Saussure's major points made uncertainty our attitude to knowledge.







  • Saussure's work undermined the certainty of a connection between a word and a thing, making the link conditional and equivocal. Meaning and the sign separated and their connection arbitrary.

Now, if we think about the historians we have talked about so far; I think I am not wrong to argue that all of them had assumed the adequacy of reference, of words to things. Think about Thompson here, for example.




  • The notion of arbitrariness of the sign deeply challenged the correspondence theory of truth: if words relate only to each other within an own structure, how could language be deemed to refer to the world? And how would historians argue that their discourse about the past matched up with ‘what really happened’ as Ranke had, for example, famously argued?






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