Presentation on theme: "Intro to Ancient History Week 10: comparisons & theories."— Presentation transcript:
Intro to Ancient History Week 10: comparisons & theories
Comparative evidence Why would we want to use material from, say, nineteenth-century US slavery? What might it tell us? What are the potential problems?
Comparative evidence Why would we want to use material from, say, nineteenth-century US slavery? shortage of ancient evidence What might it tell us? how it might have been What are the potential problems? similarity or difference? underlying changes? choice of appropriate comparison?
Generalisations & Theories Move to identify general principles, or make use of ideas from economics, sociology etc. Breadth: applicability to range of historical contexts including pre-modern. Strength and nature: how far proclaimed as a universal law, how far a model or trend? Which theory? Depends partly on topic, but always competing ideas on interpretation.
The problem with theory Theory is always controversial, at least in history: seen by some to be anachronistic, distorting, politicised, deliberately obscure. One possible response: all history is anachronistic, distorting etc., but theoretical history is aware of its own limitations. Different ways of doing history, each claiming superiority – but also different conceptions of theory and its role in writing history.
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