Saturday, April 4, 2009


Vitanza on Historiographies:
Vitanza divides historiographies into three categories: traditional, revisionary, and subversive. He clearly mentions that these categories are fluid and can overlap each other. However, these categories are largely distinct.
Traditional historiography:
Histories that have time (narrative) as a major category
Histories that does not emphasize time or man as a major category
In short traditional historiography attempts to discover and present the historical “facts” and events in an objective manner (though questionable for the other types of historians). Some of the models under this category are “documentary model,” “archival model,” and “objectivist model.” For them data are of primary importance as they speak objectively about the events of the past. This kind of history is positivistic.
Revisionary Historiography:
Revisionary history as full disclosure: trying to recover the things excluded in mainstream histories.
Revisionary history as self-conscious critical practices: “… all writing (thinking) self-deception, . . . all facts are always already interpretations.”
In short, revisionary historiography revisits history to recover the details and facts left out in the traditional histories or provides history with an awareness that it is always already ideological.
Sub/versive Historiography:
This kind of historiography is anti-fascist (in any form) and expresses distrust of “mastery and authority.” It is completely opposed to traditional historiography’s focus on history as a repository of truth and knowledge. This short of historiography is more Derridean, Deluse and Guattarain, with a focus on uncertainty and infinite possibilities. I think it can be said to be an extension of or a radical form of the second type of revisionary historiography. Vitanza’s taxonomy of historiographies is both compelling and sometimes confusing too. This may be because he is writing in a fashion that seems to follow the poststructuralist tendency that he advocates to a large extent.
Corbett: Traditional Historiography
The main argument of this essay is that business and professional communication has ignored many aspects of classical rhetoric that can be used to make the act of communication effective. He attempts to show the importance of the strategies and notions of classical rhetoric like ethos and pathos and some other aspects of communication like tone, persona, and image. Classical rhetoric is a good source for us to learn diverse aspects of communication.
Corbett’s is a traditional historiography as he is simply listing some of the aspects of classical rhetoric to justify his point that classical rhetoric is a good source for enhancing communication practices in professional and business communication field. I don’t find any revisionary tendency in his text. He is neither trying to disclose the previously hidden facets of classical rhetoric, nor is he self-consciously critical about his own practice. The only thing he says is that the importance of classical rhetoric for business and professional communication has been largely ignored.
Howard: Traditional/Revisionary
A problem dealing with Howard’s piece in terms of historiography is that it does not specify a different version of a history of copyright system which overlooks certain aspects of the history of copyright system in the West. However, Howard clearly mentions that he wants to present a notion of copyright based on its history different from the one generally understood. He demonstrates how copyright principle emerged not as a natural right of authorship but due to an “ignoble desire for censorship.” He shows how copyright is a privilege like getting a license to drive a car. His major purpose is to show the complexities brought about by new technologies in understanding and interpreting copyright laws.
Now his history of copyright laws is traditional in the sense that his purpose is to present how copyright law emerged in the beginning and evolved to the present state. However, he is completely aware that the rise of copyright laws in specific forms was the product of politico-historical factors. He is also aware that the copyright laws are subject to varying interpretations. In this sense his historiography can be called revisionary.
Zappen: Revisionary (self-conscious critical practices)
He says that Bacon’s texts have been taken variously to advocate different, sometimes even incompatible, views of science and scientific writing style. His point is that varying interpretations of Bacon have occurred due to the richness of Bacon’s writings and the ideological positions of the individual historians. I believe Zappen falls under the second type of revisionary historiography. He clearly says that “each of these interpretations, including my own, reflects a different ideology, a different perception of the good of the scientific and community, and alternative vision of what science and scientific rhetoric might and ought to be.”

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