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Epistolary Histories: Letters, Fiction, Culture (review)

Epistolary Histories: Letters, Fiction, Culture (review) 06-reviews 10/29/02 10:31 AM Page 685 Reviews 685 of the “objectivity question,” such as That Noble Dream by Peter Novick and Telling the Truth about History by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob are neglected, as are classic works about oral history methodology, like Jan Vansina’s Oral Tradition as History. It is hard to fault Knowles for not doing his homework. He is an educa- tion professor and an artist, not a professional biographer, and he has appar- ently not had any exposure to historical methodology. Readers of this journal will applaud him because he wants to be sensitive to context and subjectivity. And yet most readers of this journal will also be underwhelmed by insights such as “Institutional forces are powerful” and “Context is all-powerful” (23). When it comes to institutions and context, Knowles makes no effort to complicate his ideas by engaging the voluminous work of previous scholars. The same methodological naivete is found in the essays that comprise the second part of the book. The contributors are sympathetic—they range from nurses who use life histories to learn about terminally ill patients, to educa- tors who work with Native Americans and the learning-disabled. The case studies http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biography University of Hawai'I Press

Epistolary Histories: Letters, Fiction, Culture (review)

Biography , Volume 25 (4) – Jan 6, 2003

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 Biographical Research Center.
ISSN
0162-4962
eISSN
1529-1456

Abstract

06-reviews 10/29/02 10:31 AM Page 685 Reviews 685 of the “objectivity question,” such as That Noble Dream by Peter Novick and Telling the Truth about History by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob are neglected, as are classic works about oral history methodology, like Jan Vansina’s Oral Tradition as History. It is hard to fault Knowles for not doing his homework. He is an educa- tion professor and an artist, not a professional biographer, and he has appar- ently not had any exposure to historical methodology. Readers of this journal will applaud him because he wants to be sensitive to context and subjectivity. And yet most readers of this journal will also be underwhelmed by insights such as “Institutional forces are powerful” and “Context is all-powerful” (23). When it comes to institutions and context, Knowles makes no effort to complicate his ideas by engaging the voluminous work of previous scholars. The same methodological naivete is found in the essays that comprise the second part of the book. The contributors are sympathetic—they range from nurses who use life histories to learn about terminally ill patients, to educa- tors who work with Native Americans and the learning-disabled. The case studies

Journal

BiographyUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 6, 2003

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