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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/24969
- Interrupting History: A critical-reconceptualisation of History curriculum after 'the end of history'
Parkes, Robert John Lawrence
- University of Newcastle. Education
- Contemporary Italian philosopher, Gianni Vattimo (1991), has described ‘the end of history’ as a motif of our times. While neo-liberal conservatives such as Francis Fukuyama (1992) celebrated triumphantly, and perhaps rather prematurely after the fall of the Berlin Wall, ‘the end of history’ in the ‘inevitable’ global acceptance of the ideologies of free market capitalism and liberal democracy, methodological postmodernists (including Barthes, Derrida, Baudrillard, Lyotard, and Foucault), mobilised ‘the end of history’ throughout the later half of the twentieth century as a symbol of a crisis of confidence in the discourse of modernity, and its realist epistemologies. This loss of faith in the adequacy of representation has been seen by many positivist and empiricist historians as a threat to the discipline of history, with its desire to recover and reconstruct "the truth" of the past. It is argued by defenders of ‘traditional’ history (from Appleby, Hunt, & Jacob, 1994; R. J. Evans, 1997; Marwick, 2001; and Windschuttle, 1996; to Zagorin, 1999), and some postmodernists (most notably, Jenkins, 1999), that if we accept postmodern social theory, historical research and writing will become untenable. This study re-examines the nature of the alleged ‘threat’ to history posed by postmodernism, and explores the implications of postmodern social theory for History as curriculum. Situated within a broadly-conceived critical-reconceptualist trend in curriculum inquiry, and deploying a form of historically and philosophically oriented ‘deconstructive hermeneutics’, the study explores past attempts to mount, and future possibilities for, a curricular response to the problem of historical representation. The analysis begins with an investigation of ‘end of history’ discourse in contemporary theory. It then proceeds through a critical exploration of the social meliorist changes to, and cultural politics surrounding, the History curriculum in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, from the Bicentennial to the Millennium (1988-2000), a period that marked curriculum as a site of contestation in a series of highly public ‘history wars’ over representations of the nation’s past (Macintyre & Clark, 2003). It concludes with a discussion of the missed opportunities for ‘critical practice’ within the NSW History curriculum. Synthesising insights into the ‘nature of history’ derived from contemporary academic debate, it is argued that what has remained uncontested in the struggle for ‘critical histories’ during the period under study, are the representational practices of history itself. The study closes with an assessment of the (im)possibility of History curriculum after ‘the end of history’. I argue that if History curriculum is to be a critical/transformative enterprise, then it must attend to the problem of historical representation.
- PhD Doctorate
- University of Newcastle Research Higher Degree Thesis
end of history;
New South Wales;
poststructuralist curriculum theory
- Resource Type
- Copyright 2006 Robert John Lawrence Parkes
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