Hayden white (and the content and the form and everyone else) at the AHA

History and Theory 36 (4):102–110 (1997)

The special session at the January 1997 annual meeting of the American Historical Association honoring the achievement of Hayden White and examining the impact and influence of his work on the historical discipline was an enlightening experience, at least to this participant, in many more ways than had been planned or promised. The session itself, albeit fairly routine by the standard of such occasions, seemed to take on a metanarrative of its own as each of the speakers confidently spoke at length, proceeding from deep premises which bore no relation to any of the others. My own initial anticipation that this event would produce limited variations on a coherent theme-the impact of the linguistic turn and of narrative theory in particular on the practice and self-definition of academic history-turned gradually to rather disconcerted bemusement, especially when my turn came to listen to myself.My previous engagement to report on the AHA session in a paper for the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University became an opportunity to confide some of my freshest reactions to the event in a fairly small and very select audience. Narrating the ephemeral metanarrative I perceived as spinning itself out over the blunter facts of the AHA occasion, turned out to be the inner topic of my Wesleyan paper , not excluding the mysterious impulses of the audience and the existential atmosphere of the never to be forgotten Princess Ballroom
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DOI 10.1111/0018-2656.00033
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