Time, Identity, and History: On the Cognitive Psychology and Figural Practice of Historiography

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Abstract

This article combines cognitive psychological knowledge of identity and temporal perception with theories of literature and historiography. The main focus is how people receive and adopt written information about the past. I argue that in historiographical accounts, when detached events are translated as metaphors or narratives, the writing process is not only guided by a reason and epistemological structure, but also by an attraction to an emotional credibility. In other words, writing history is partly accomplished for the purpose of reconstructing a smooth and coherent temporal order, emerging from a hope to attain an affective confidence which overcomes the absolute alterity of the past. On the other hand, when receiving a written historical narrative, an emotional attunement, a sensation of a connection with the past, helps us to assimilate the substance of that particular history as part of our individual way to perceive temporality and interaction. If historiography is understood on the one hand as an act of articulating the writer’s narrative identity with the vocabulary provided by the past events, and on the other hand as a cultural means to strengthen the reader’s explanation how ‘meaningfulness’ can be framed from aimless chronological time, it would be possible to scrutinize not only the ‘politics of history’ but also the ‘culture of writing about the past.’
Original languageEnglish
JournalRethinking History
Volume19
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)602-620
Number of pages19
ISSN1364-2529
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • historiography, cognitive psychology, figura, time, narrative, emotions, memory

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