15 July 2008


"Presentism is a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas and perspectives are anachronistically introduced into depictions or interpretations of the past. Most [I wish] modern historians seek to avoid presentism in their work because they believe it creates a distorted understanding of their subject matter."

From Wikipedia

"In his 1970 book Historians' Fallacies, David Hackett Fischer identified Schlesinger-style history as a historical error called 'presentism.' You couldn't look for the origins of the present in the past without doing damage to the past, and you'd do it based on your politics. 'Presentism,' Fischer wrote, 'appears in the new-liberal narratives of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., where American history is the steady progress of pragmatic liberalism from Jefferson to Jackson to Franklin Roosevelt. Finally, the Kennedys become Top Family.' The apparent political bias of presentism irked Fischer. At the time, a variety of New Left historians had adopted the idea of a 'usable past' as a way of pointing to a more progressive future with more civil rights and less cold war.'

From the History News Network

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