Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quote of the Day: Finke and Shichtman


A Bruno Latour-esque riff from King Arthur and the Myth of History:
A fact is an utterance whose history has been erased. The past controversies, struggles, conflicts, debates, alliances, negotiations, and trials of strength that went into its making have all been rendered invisible. In this sense a fact speaks for itself because it needs no one to speak for it; attribution or authorship would undermine an utterance's status as fact ... Scratch the surface of the historical fact and you will begin to untangle the network of alliances of people (eyewitnesses, historical actors, schoalrs, readers, teachers, students) and of things (books, manuscripts, articles, archives, letters, diaries, buildings, artifacts) that hold it together. (15)

3 comments:

Karl Steel said...

Oh god, Jeffrey, you're a lifesaver. I'm doing Marxism and Historical Criticism vis-a-vis the Wife of Bath for my Master's level Intro to Theory course, I have 50 minutes to prepare a 90-minute class...and this is the quote that I'm using to start my lecture.

Thanks!

Jeffrey J Cohen said...

Fortunately, Karl, I can both read your mind and predict your pedagogical needs.

How did the lecture go?

Karl Steel said...

It went great, thankfully. Started with the Finke and Shichtman, moved onto Benjamin's bit on documents of civilization/documents of barbarism & brushing history against the grain from Theses, got them talking about both for 20 minutes, and then did the quick run through key terms of Marxist critique (base! superstructure! commodity fetish! mystification! aesthetic disposition! autonomous-self-as-fetish!), then got them arguing about the Wife of Bath...and, dismount!

Went fine. A rough week concluded happily.

We'll see what clairvoyant you provides me for the Miller's Tale...