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terrell dg, fernand braudel and the annales (scribd)

terrell dg, fernand braudel and the annales (scribd)

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Published by David G Terrell
Fernand Braudel and the Annales: History’s Dialectic of Space and Time. Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) was a French historian who, between 1956 and 1968, oversaw the institutionalization of the “Annales” historiographical paradigm. This movement was named after its scholarly journal, Annales d’historie economique et sociale, founded in 1929 by Marc Bloch (1886-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1956). While Annales influenced the writing of history globally, its effects are most often seen among French- and Spanish-speaking historians. Braudel is acknowledged as the second generation leader of Annales. This paper intends to answer several questions of interest to the author. What characteristics distinguished the first-generation Annales paradigm from previous historiographical paradigms? What additional historiographical methods were introduced by Braudel? What criticisms were levied against Annales historians? What trends emerged in the post-Braudelian Annales paradigm?
Fernand Braudel and the Annales: History’s Dialectic of Space and Time. Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) was a French historian who, between 1956 and 1968, oversaw the institutionalization of the “Annales” historiographical paradigm. This movement was named after its scholarly journal, Annales d’historie economique et sociale, founded in 1929 by Marc Bloch (1886-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1956). While Annales influenced the writing of history globally, its effects are most often seen among French- and Spanish-speaking historians. Braudel is acknowledged as the second generation leader of Annales. This paper intends to answer several questions of interest to the author. What characteristics distinguished the first-generation Annales paradigm from previous historiographical paradigms? What additional historiographical methods were introduced by Braudel? What criticisms were levied against Annales historians? What trends emerged in the post-Braudelian Annales paradigm?

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Published by: David G Terrell on May 24, 2010
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Fernand Braudel and the
 Annales:
History’s
 Dialectic of Space and Time David G. Terrell January 21, 2009 For history
… having grown old in embryo as mere narrative, for long encumbered with
legend, and for still longer preoccupied with only the most obvious events
 at last, it struggles to penetrate beneath the mere surface of actions
.
1
 Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) was a French historian who, between 1956 and 1968, oversaw the institutionalization of the
 Annales
 historiographical paradigm. This movement was named after its scholarly journal,
 Annales d’historie economique et sociale
, founded in 1929 by Marc Bloch (1886-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1956). While
 Annales
 influenced the writing of history globally, its effects are most often seen among French- and Spanish-speaking historians. Braudel is acknowledged as the second generation leader of
 Annales.
 
 Annales
 scholars
, like the American “new historians” of the
early twentieth century, stepped away from traditional narrative political history in favor of a more inclusive, more analytical history. Both groups wanted to present history holistically by embracing an interdisciplinary collaboration with other human sciences, such as geography, sociology and anthropology. Unlike American progressives such as Turner and Beard, Bloch and Febvre did not reject the major themes of German historiography
 — 
an emphasis on continuity and the hypostatization of the state
 — 
in their determination to expand the scope of historical inquiry. Contrary to some historiographers,
 Annales
 scholars were antagonistic only to history that failed to go beyond a superficial examination of events, or history that was studied in ways they deemed methodologically dubious.
 
This paper intends to answer several questions of interest to the author. What characteristics distinguished the first-generation
 Annales
 paradigm from previous historiographical paradigms? What
1
 Marc Bloch.
The Historian's Craft.
 Trans. Peter Putnam (New York: Random House, 1953), 13.
 
2 Terrell, David G. additional historiographical methods were introduced by Braudel? What criticisms were levied against
 Annales
 historians? What trends emerged in the post-Braudelian
 Annales
 paradigm? Since classical times, historians in the West have written in a variety of genres. The first dominant paradigm was narrative or exemplar history, used most often to chronicle political and military events. It had the practical goal of training the next generation of citizens and leaders by providing
selected examples “in the didactic sense of being illustrative of what the society, through the historian, desires to inculcate and what it wants to warn against.”
2
 
Such histories evolved from Herodotus’ pure
na
rration, making no connection between events and conditions, through Thucydides’ systematic explanations, to Polybius’ methodical application of observations of human nature to the explanation of
historical context. Extolling the great deeds of great men remained the dominant form of history through subsequent centuries of piecemeal modification, first by Christian and then by humanist historians until the narrative form was challenged during the Enlightenment, around the middle of the eighteenth century. E
nlightenment writers, becoming interested in a “history of society” that would include laws and
trade, morals, and manners, strived to create their vision of a rational,
“scientific”
 historiography. These h
istorians, as “rational individuals operating in a
 world where natural laws endowed and safeguarded
individual rights”
3
, examined events, hoping to discover universal laws of human development. Historians of the Enlightenment
focused on history’s
 usefulness in promoting nationalism and cultural  pride
 — 
 progress.
 
In the fragmented German states
, historians were admonished “to understand the unique situation
existing at a given time and place and to use general terms and insights solely to elucidate the concrete.
4
 They allied themselves with classical philology and drew upon legal studies and text analysis, in an
2
 Traian Stoianovitch.
 French Historical Method: The Annales paradigm.
 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976), 26.
3
 Ernst Breisach.
 Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern.
 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 200.
4
 Breisach, 222.
 
3 Terrell, David G. attempt to ameliorate their nationalist frustrations over their disunity and to understand the past through
“love of detail, attention to sources, and preference for a narrow range of interpretation”
.
5
 
“Progress” was
their watchword and reason, emotion, and passion were treated as part of human nature. They drove themselves to make history into an erudite, elegant, empirical science capable of illuminating usable laws of human behavior and their almost exclusive use of government archives shaped Western historiography. During this time, French historians, perhaps in accordance with a cultural bias that embraced a  joy of life and desired a perfection of humanity, were fixated on the idea of a rational progress that pushed humanity
toward “the highest good”: a
universal peace, rational religion, and freedom under law. Their sweeping, elegant theories of rational, beautiful humanity drew criticism from German historians whose  practical, functional nature was steeped in history based on cautious research. French historians persisted in their belief 
 — 
that mankind, and more especially France, was  progressing towards an egalitarian society
 — 
until the failures of the French revolution and the Napoleonic Empire. A group of historians, seeking a proper political understanding for France to fill the social vacuum left by these two upheavals, began rejecting the dominant empiricist paradigm as sterile and limited. Their insistence that history is an act of imaginative construction, rather than the cautious reporting of facts that somehow speak for themselves, provided much of the theoretical underpinning that  became the features of the
 Annales.
 As the twentieth century began, criticisms of political history were sharp in Western academia. In America and
France, “the nature of history was the subject of a lively debate.”
6
 In America, progressives like Beard argued for materialistic interpretations of constitutional history that upset earlier interpretations that radically ennobled the founding fathers; while Turner expressed his belief that history had lost touch
5
 Breisach 219. Peter Novick.
That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession.
 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 99.
6
 Peter Burke.
The French Historical Revolution: The Annales School 1929-89.
 (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1990), 9.

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