Question. What are usual undergraduate and/or graduate textbooks on historiographical method used in contemporary history programs at large universities in the Anglosphere?


  • Being a mathematician, I expect this question to about as naive and easy to answer like if someone asked me "I have heard that there is this method where they alway write rectangular arrays of numbers of symbols on the board, and I have heard it is immensely useful for efficiently rotating geometric shapes on a screen. What's that called? What are usual textbooks on that?" the first question of which could be answered by "Linear Algebra", or maybe "See any first-year syllabus of any decent university.", and the second question of which I could answer briefly too, yet find doing so here too much of a statement.

  • I am not asking for a summary of historiographical methods here, rather for some relevant recommendations of usual (possibly even undergraduate-) textbooks on historical method, in particular, on methods of presenting/sifting/structuring historical writing.

  • The analogue of the lapidary "Linear Algebra" response would here perhaps be "Historiography". Historiography takes methods of presentation very seriously. However, not being a professional historian, I do not have a 'big picture' of this, but I did learn some systematic history in high-school, and there heard of some of very different abstract concepts like 'longitudal' as opposed to 'cross-sectional' mode of presentation. (The former touches upon an object-of-study several times at several points in time, the latter tends to touch on more distinct objects of study yet only at one point in time; the 'cutting'-metaphor inherent in the two technical terms of course refers to some mental image of cutting trough an thickened-by-events arrow-of-time). For several reasons, I would like to read a professional textbook on abstract historiographical methods, written in English.

  • The qualification that the textbook be in use at universities nowadays is not too important to me: I would appreciate, for example, if someone would recommend a relevant methodological textbook which they think particularly good, but which just happens to be out of print, or out of fashion.

  • 1
    Source requests and recommendations are out of scope; see discussion on meta. – Mark C. Wallace Aug 18 '17 at 10:38
  • @MarkC.Wallace: I called it a very broad question. In any event, I VTC. – Tom Au Aug 18 '17 at 11:43
  • 2
    The Medieval Manuscript Book - Cultural Approaches (Cambridge, 2015), The Oxford History of Historical Writing, 5-volume set (Oxford, 2015), Companion to Historiogaphy (Routledge, 1997). Enjoy! – J Asia Aug 18 '17 at 19:42