Rearranging the Files: On Interpretation in Media History

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In this essay the author argues for the necessity of self-conscious interpretation in historical scholarship. Historical documents are traces, to use Jacques Derrida's term. They point to absences, events that once were but now are not. Building on Derrida's concepts (without accepting his entire theory of language), alongside historiographic theory and ideas about method from the critical sociology tradition, the author argues that the work of classification and transversal thought offers an alternative to realist historiographies, one that allows for attention to the process of interpretation while affirming the need to continue writing history that makes claims on truth.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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