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Performativity and the intellectual historian's re-enactment of written works.

Tyler, Colin

Authors



Abstract

This article develops and defends a performative conception of historical re-enactment as a fruitful method by which intellectual historians can interpret texts. Specifically, it argues that, in order to understand properly any given text, the intellectual historian should re-enact the performative activities of the writer of that text. The first section analyses one of the most influential and powerful theories of historical re-enactment, namely that found in the later writings of Robin George Collingwood. Drawing on Wittgenstein's theory of family resemblances, certain key insights are identified in Collingwood's theory. Crucially, certain limitations are also stressed. The second section argues that an alternative theory of re-enactment can be developed by drawing on Judith Butler's theory of "performativity". The interpretative implications of a writer's genre, mode of experience, presuppositions, deliberate inventiveness and unintended failures are highlighted. The particularized nature of texts is shown to problematize the writing of unilinear histories of written debates. The article concludes by summarizing briefly the key methodological implications of performative re-enactment as they have been identified in the body of the article.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2009
Journal Journal of the Philosophy of History
Print ISSN 1872-261X
Electronic ISSN 1872-2636
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 167-186
APA6 Citation Tyler, C. (2009). Performativity and the intellectual historian's re-enactment of written works. Journal of the Philosophy of History, 3(2), 167-186. doi:10.1163/187226309x434858
DOI https://doi.org/10.1163/187226309x434858
Keywords History and Philosophy of Science; History
Publisher URL http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/187226309x434858
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