Ponderance

(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Henry Reynolds announces postmodernism's demise ...

Sunday, May 28, 2006
According to Henry Renolds, postmodernism's impact on history has been and gone ...
A postmodern interpretation of history that analyses the use of language and challenges the truth of historical facts has had its day, influential historian Henry Reynolds said yesterday. Declaring himself to be "an old-fashioned historian", Professor Reynolds said postmodernism had provided an interesting take on the language of history but "it just goes round and round, with lots of lights and colours and doesn't get you anywhere". "I think the postmodernist movement has gone," he told a session of the Sydney Writers Festival. "We live in profoundly different times to 1980. We live in some ways in a terrifying world where old-fashioned history and truth continue to have their great value and virtue." During a discussion with fellow historian Ross Fitzgerald, Professor Reynolds said he believed history had a purpose, which was to search for the truth. "Truth is important. It always has to be partial, it always has to be as I see it, but that is what we have to search for," he said. After the session, Professor Reynolds said that school history courses were tending to preach rather than teach, which was inappropriate.

While postmodern interpretations may have been problematic when arguing for concrete outcomes (such as land rights), I fear Reynolds overstates the case. We may be post-postmodern (or whatever word we now use), but the lessons of postmodernism, if not its extremes, still very much inform our current critical thinking landscape, including the practice of history ...

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