Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Mar 13, 2013

Ideas of historical distance have long been fundamental to Western conceptions of historical knowledge. In practice, however, distance seems to have dwindled into little more than a professional shibboleth - a way of defending the historian's labours against the simplifications of popular journalism or the shortcuts of the guided tour. In common usage, historical distance refers to a position of detached observation made possible by the passage of time, but the standard conception narrows the idea of distance and burdens it with a regulatory purpose. In this lecture, Mark Salber Philips argues that distance needs to be re-conceived in terms of the wider set of engagements that mediate our relations to the past, as well as the full spectrum of distance-positions from near to far. Re-imagined in these terms, distance sheds its prescriptiveness and becomes a valuable heuristic for examining the range and variability of historical representation.