In his very useful volume, published as far back as 1987, Peter Dews began
Over the past two decades the style of thought known as post-structuralism has exercised an extraordinary influence over intellectual life in the English-speaking world. Post-structuralist strategies and forms of analysis, orientated towards the dismantling of stable conceptions of meaning, subjectivity and identity, have become central to the theoretical armoury, and in some cases have brought about the transformation, of a wide variety of disciplines in the humanities and social studies. … In the domain of social theory and the history of thought, the writings of Michel Foucault have been a major stimulus.
This volume aims to consider the impact upon
of this complex of ideas and climate of intellectual thought. Historiography means the writing of history — a term I prefer in that context to ‘history’, so as to emphasise the distinction between the events of the past, which are the object of historical research, and the public presentation of the historian’s conclusions — mainly in the form of the written word, though it can also apply to other media. However, the title of this volume is not inapt, for if, as postmodern thinkers insist, the past
essentially nothing other than what historians write, then the distinction becomes meaningless. That is not the least of the reasons why it remains necessary to examine the claims of this theoretical standpoint in an accessible fashion which at the same time tries to avoid oversimplification. It can scarcely any longer be termed a new development, yet it continues to generate heated dispute, as the pages of academic and intellectual periodicals such as the
Times Higher Education Supplement
London Review of Books
New York Review of Books