Study Guide

Stephen Greenblatt - Yearbook Historians

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Yearbook Historians

There's always that one kid with a camera ready to snap a pic or make a vine, and that's who these peeps would be. These folks would love to be the flies on the wall of history, documenting the now, over-analyzing the then, speculating on what's to come.

Michel Foucault

Part of the reason why you see this guy every-flippin'-where is that he wrote so darn much. Things like Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality are definitely not light reads, but that's because Foucault plows through centuries of history to set up his ever-popular ideas about institutionalized power struggles.

Michel de Certeau

Still haven't had enough talk about power? Check out what this Jesuit philosopher-historian wrote about history writing and its relationship to religion and religious practice. You can find that in, ahem, The Writing of History.

This dude's best known work in the U.S. is The Practice of Everyday Life, where he talks all about power. According to his definition, power struggles consist of "strategies" that institutions use against individuals, who respond with "tactics." For instance, a city might be built along a grid-system designated by the government (that's institutional strategy of behavior control), but an individual may take a shortcut (that's a tactic, baby).

Tzvetan Todorov

Todorov writes a lot about memory loss—specifically the kind of thing that happens when a totalitarian regime erases or rewrites history in order to further its own agenda. The scary thing is, Todorov thinks that contemporary technology and communication participates similar—and maybe even more threatening—forms of memory loss and historical destruction.

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