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Historiography is writing about rather than of history. Historiography is meta-analysis of descriptions of the past. The analysis usually focuses on the narrative, interpretations, worldview, use of evidence, or method of presentation of other historians.

Table of contents
1 Historians' defining historiography
2 An example
3 Basic issues studied in historiography
4 Some recent controversies
5 Approaches to history
6 See also

Historians' defining historiography

Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris define "historiography" as "the study of the way history has been and is written--the history of historical writing... When you study 'historiography' you do not study the events of the past directly, but the changing interpretations of those events in the works of individual historians." (The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide by (Harlan-Davidson, 1988), p. 223.)

An example

A person living at a time witnesses events. If she writes about the events she witnessed she has created a primary source. When a historian uses the primary source (to discuss events witnessed) in another text we now have a secondary source. When another historian argues that the secondary source misuses (or correctly uses) the primary source, we have historiography.

For instance from Raul Hilberg, in an essay called "The Goldhagen Phenomenon" discussing the origins of the Holocaust, "Goldhagen overstates the extent and depth of German anti-Semitism. At the same time he underplays two factors that greatly weaken his basic thesis. One is that not all the shooters were Germans, the other, that not all the victims were Jews."

The study of historiography demands a critical approach that goes beyond the mere examination of historical fact. Historiographical studies consider the source, often by researching the author, his or her position in society, and the type of history being written at the time.

Basic issues studied in historiography

Some of the basic questions considered in historiography are:

Some recent controversies

Some recent historiographical controversies include periodization of European history, rate of exploitation of African-Americans during and after slavery, the role of whiteness in U.S. labor struggles, and the attitude of "good Germans" to the Holocaust.

Approaches to history

Diplomatic History, also called Political history
The Annales School - 20th Century French movement
History from below
Social History
Oral History

See also