Posts tagged ‘theology’

Lionel Gossman’s Towards a Rational Historiography (American Philosophical Society Transaction 73-5, ISBN: 142237467X)

Towards a Rational Historiography
(American Philosophical Society Transaction 79-3, ISBN: 142238196X)
by Lionel Gossman (Paperback, 68 pages, 1989, $25.00)

Towards a Rational Historiography

Author Lionel Gossman maintains that underlying the argument that historiography cannot be subsumed under a poetics or a rhetoric (in the sense of a system of purely linguistic or literary tropes) is a larger claim, namely that a wide range of activities, from literary criticism, through legal debate, theology, ethics, politics, psychology, and medicine to the natural sciences, all constitute rational practices, even if there is considerable variation in the degree of formalism and rigor and in the type of argument most commonly employed in each of these different of fields of inquiry.

See the Google Preview: Towards a Rational Historiography of this book before you purchase it.

Hence Gossman emphasizes the practice or process of doing history rather than the product. What appeals to him in the idea of reason as a practice is its open, liberal, and democratic character. Historiography as a rational practice supposes a community of participants rather than the “anomie” of a world in which every man is his own historian or, at best, the relation of hero and follower that appears to be implied by privileging the historical “text.”

“In a 1963 essay on Voltaire’s History of Charles XII,” author Lionel Gossman tells the American Philosophical Society, “I had argued, in reaction to the seemingly entrenched positivism of the historical profession, that in constructing their narratives historians use the same literary figures and tropes as writers of fiction.

“After the publication of Hayden White’s groundbreaking Metahistory by the Johns Hopkins University Press (of whose editorial board I was then a member), I became associated with a group of historians, philosophers, and literary scholars, who were putting forward similar arguments.

“Soon, however, as often happens, what had been a challenging, critical position became a new orthodoxy. My students seemed to believe that there was no difference at all between history and fiction.

“I was convinced there was and I began to argue that modern history at least was a problem-solving rather than a myth-making activity, an ongoing process of criticism and revision, which could never, certainly, result in a representation of past reality but which in fact neither aimed nor claimed to offer that.

“I suggested that we consider historical narrative as closer to the competing evidence-based narratives presented in a court of law than to literary fictions. Towards a Rational Historiography was my attempt to stake out a position that was neither naively positivist nor completely skeptical.”

Edward Berenson writes in his book The Trial of Madame Caillaux: “Unlike many recent critics of historians and historical practice, especially those influenced by French literary theory, Gossman grounds his discussion in a solid sense of what historians ‘actually do’, not just when they write their narratives but when they perform their research, integrate and evaluate the work of others, revise and reconceptualize their scholarship in the face of new evidence and critical scrutiny.”

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June 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

Lionel Gossman’s Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck’s “Italia und Germania” (American Philosophical Society Transaction 97-5; ISBN: 0871699753)

Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck’s “Italia und Germania”
(American Philosophical Society Transaction 97-5, ISBN: 0871699753)
by Lionel Gossman (Paperback, 101 pages, 2007, $29.00)

Winner of the American Philosophical Society’s 2007 John Frederick Lewis Award for Best Book or Monograph.

Making of a Romantic Icon In this original and thought-provoking book, Princeton University Prof. Emeritus Lionel Gossman, focuses on Johann Friedrich Overbeck’s “Italia and Germania” to discuss the importance of religious conversion in Romantic thought.

It treats the evolution of the Nazarene artists’ preoccupation with religious issues in an engaging manner and offers a social-historical and theological context to Overbeck’s painting by looking interestingly at a wide range of issues and contacts in his early Nazarene period. Illustrations.

“I was led to the once-influential Nazarene artists while preparing the Burckhardt section of my book on Basel,” author Lionel Gossman tells the American Philosophical Society. Burckhardt condemned them as retrograde, but I found their rejection of realism refreshing. The rigorous composition, pronounced linearity, and flat colors of their paintings and frescoes, and the strength, yet delicacy of their drawings appealed to me.

“They also struck me as quite close to the the neo-classical artists, with whom they are sometimes contrasted, but with whom several of them had in fact studied and who, like them, denounced the subservience of baroque and rococo art to the desires and pleasures of the rich and powerful.

“The painting now known as ‘Italia und Germania’ by Friedrich Overbeck, was the culmination of a series of drawings and paintings executed by Overbeck and his close friend Franz Pforr. But the preliminary works were entitled “Sulamith und Maria.”

“In view of the keen attention the Nazarenes paid to the literary and symbolic aspects of their work, and the important role religion played in their art and lives, I was intrigued — and moved — by this title and I wondered what it might have meant to the artists. The Making of a Romantic Icon resulted from my attempt to find out.”

Book News writes in a review: “In this well-illustrated essay, Gossman discusses Overbeck’s well-known painting to show layers of religious and philosophical context. Details concerning the artist’s life and the artistic and intellectual circle around him in Rome are described in the account.”

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June 30, 2010 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

Weekly Book Special: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Knock at Midnight, Book of Speeches

Weekly Book Special: January 18th-24th

Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Edited by Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran
(Hardcover, 234 pages, 1998, $20.00)

This week we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with “A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.” — a book of 11 of the civil rights leader’s most powerful and spiritual sermons.

This book contains the texts of his sermons — ranging from his earliest to his last one, delivered just days before his assassination. Includes his famous “The American Dream” speech, and seven sermons never before seen in print.

Especially featured are the titular sermon, among Dr. King’s most challenging, and seven sermons never before seen in print. Click on the YouTube clip below (opens in a new window) to listen to “A Knock at Midnight” — in which he talks about the personal hardships he has faced as a result of fighting for justice:

Eleven renowned ministers and theologians of our time, including Rev. Billy Graham, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop T.D. Jakes, provide compelling introductions. Here they share their personal reflections on the sermons and firsthand accounts of the events surrounding their delivery.

“These are masterpieces of theological literature from one of the world’s great orators,” writes Uma Kukathas, an author of civil rights books.“Each sermon is a jewel of literary artistry, as it presents a simple problem, examines its complications, and offers a startling and often challenging resolution.”

Blogger Jesse Caron calls it “an amazing read,” saying: “Mr. King is an amazing communicator clearly and his messages are very biblically based in my estimation.” Brandon George, another blogger, adds: “It’s very much inspiring!”

“This set of Dr. King’s sermons/speeches is a dream come true,” writes Dr. Arthur Dunklin. Dunklin is a college professor who has written several books on African-American history. “I’m really glad I purchased these.”

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January 18, 2010 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

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