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Clio among the Muses

Essays on History and the Humanities

Peter Charles Hoffer

Publication Year: 2013

History helps us understand change, provides clues to our own identity, and hones our moral sense. But history is not a stand-alone discipline. Indeed, its own history is incomplete without recognition of its debt to its companions in the humane and social sciences. In Clio among the Muses, noted historiographer Peter Charles Hoffer relates the story of this remarkable collaboration. Hoffer traces history’s complicated partnership with its coordinate disciplines of religion, philosophy, the social sciences, literature, biography, policy studies, and law. As in ancient days, when Clio was preeminent among the other eight muses, so today, the author argues that history can and should claim pride of place in the study of past human action and thought.
Intimate and irreverent at times, Clio among the Muses synthesizes a remarkable array of information. Clear and concise in its review of the companionship between history and its coordinate disciplines, fair-minded in its assessment of the contributions of history to other disciplines and these disciplines' contributions to history, Clio among the Muses will capture the attention of everyone who cares about the study of history. For as the author demonstrates, the study of history is something unique, ennobling, and necessary. One can live without religion, philosophy and the rest. One cannot exist without history. Rigorously documented throughout, the book offers a unique perspective on the craft of history.
Peter Charles Hoffer has taught history at Harvard, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Brooklyn College, and the University of Georgia since 1968, and specializes in historical methods, early American history, and legal history. He has authored or co-authored over three dozen books, and edited another twenty. Previous titles include The Historian’s Paradox: The Study of History in Our Time (NYU Press, 2008). 

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

...forget all that we have said before and start fresh, as a lot of The humorist, essayist, and pseudo-documentary movie maker Robert Benchley had a rare gift for parody. One of his targets was the academic know-it-all who learns everything from books. For example, ?in order to write about snake-charming, one has to know a little about its history, ...

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Introduction: The Problem with History

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pp. 1-8

Clio, paramount among the nine ancient Greek muses, was gifted by her mother with memory and shared lyric skills with her eight sisters. She inspired those who assayed to sing, tell, and write stories of the past. Ancient audiences held the followers of Clio in high regard, for they captured the imagination of the listener and reader. For Hellenes gath-...

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1. History and Religion

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pp. 9-24

...history which is not yet finished nor will be till the end of the Religion is both history?s foremost rival and first aegis. The result is an uneasy collaboration. The earliest surviving invocations of priests and reli-gious mystics include references to history. With these words the intimate tie of history and religion is written and sealed?that is, if history is God?s ...

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2. History and Philosophy

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pp. 25-48

Like religion and history, philosophy and history have a long, complicated, sometimes fruitful and sometimes dif_f_icult relationship. Perhaps the awk-wardness in the collaboration is a byproduct of professional instincts. His-torians are wary of addressing basic questions of knowing. Philosophers revel in those same questions. But questions of how we know about the ...

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3. History and the Social Sciences

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pp. 49-71

The social sciences force themselves on each other, each trying Religion and philosophy elevate history?s humanistic qualities, the desire and the ability to know more about ourselves, a collaboration whose roots go back to written history?s inception. But historical knowing has a less yielding side as well, an inclination to scientific rigor. After all, to ...

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4. History and Literature

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pp. 72-87

At its best, historical scholarship respects religion, reconciles with phi-losophy, and embraces social science, permitting faith, reason, and sci-ence to join in historical judgment. But as Francis Bacon understood, there are always blanks and spaces in the evidence that the historian?s wit and artistry must fill. Writing history is a literary act. Can and should ...

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5. History and Biography

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pp. 88-109

Biographers see themselves as a special breed of historians, concerned with how one person ?lived, moved, spoke, and enjoyed a certain set of human attributes.? Thus, of all the genres of history, biography is the closest to literature. This does not always bring the biographer a place in the front ranks of historians. ?Consider how uneasily biography lies ...

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6. History and Policy Studies

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pp. 110-134

The study of greatness in men and women often focuses on the decisions they made?decisions that affected many around them and in some cases still affect us today. Policy studies, the modern analysis of decision mak-ing, has gone far beyond assessments of character and intelligence, the stuff of most biographies. The story of this companion of history begins ...

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7. History and the Law

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pp. 135-150

We cannot understand a political systemuni00A0 .uni00A0 .uni00A0 .uni00A0 and its lawsuni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0without a knowledge of the people who have adopted ituni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0for nothing is more evident, than what will conduct one tory and traininguni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0.uni00A0on the high road to national greatness The cartoonist and wit Jimmy Hatlo?s ?There Oughta Be a Law? was ...

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Conclusion: An Answer?

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pp. 151-154

In these pages I have argued that without their tie to religion, the first histories would have had little purpose. Without the infusion of philo-sophical rigor, history would have taught little of lasting value. Without the introduction of social sciences, history might have been dismissed as mere antiquarianism, like its subject matter a relic of a bygone world. ...


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pp. 155-176

A Very Short Bibliography (with Annotations)

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pp. 177-180


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pp. 181-186

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About the Author

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p. 198-198

Peter Charles Hoffer is Distinguished Research Professor of History at the University of Georgia. He has taught history at Harvard, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Brooklyn College, and the University of Georgia and spe-cializes in historical methods, early American history, and legal history. He has written or co-written more than three dozen books and edited ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781479862528
Print-ISBN-13: 9781479832835
Print-ISBN-10: 1479832839

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2013