The Trickster Prince

Matt Houlbrook: mobile historian; beard growing, head shaving; occasional cycling.

The historian as trickster?

Precisely how do you see the relationship between past and present? Do you find in the present world, indeed in yourself, this type of game? Isn’t a historian, even the most conscientious one who respects the basic rules of knowledge, still just someone who makes the past into some kind of game? Doesn’t a historian put this mask or that one, however knowingly, on the characters she claims to give voice to, be they major or minor figures, based on the sources or not? Isn’t a historian thus only a charlatan, a mere trickster, who should leave all of us skeptical about the historian’s craft? 


Denis Crouzet to Natalie Zemon Davis, in Natalie Zemon Davis, A Passion for History: Conversations with Denis Crouzet (2010), 11.


One comment on “The historian as trickster?

  1. Pingback: Blogging Our Criminal Past, part 2: history turned upside down? | Conviction

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