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On Writing Contemporary History / Martin Johnes

North American Journal of Welsh Studies, Volume: 6, Issue: 1, Pages: 20 - 31

Swansea University Author: Martin, Johnes

Abstract

Hidden behind the finished products of history are long, painstaking processes of evaluating both sources and the narratives produced from them. All historians go through these processes but for contemporary historians they have unique dimensions. Rather than having to cope with a scant historical r...

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Published in: North American Journal of Welsh Studies
Published: 2011
Online Access: http://welshstudiesjournal.org/article/view/11/7
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa31120
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Abstract: Hidden behind the finished products of history are long, painstaking processes of evaluating both sources and the narratives produced from them. All historians go through these processes but for contemporary historians they have unique dimensions. Rather than having to cope with a scant historical record, the contemporary historian is more likely to be overwhelmed with sources, forcing him/her into crucial decisions of selection. An author can also be very near to a topic and thus have strong preconceptions to overcome. Moreover, his/her subjects might still be alive which raises ethical questions about ownership of the past. This article addresses such issues, paying particular attention to how writers of surveys of contemporary history have tackled them. The solutions are often literary ones and, for all the problems of writing contemporary history, when done well it can be lively, entertaining, engaging, unsettling and provocative.
Keywords: methodology, archives, methods,Wales, history, historiography
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 1
Start Page: 20
End Page: 31