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Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism
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Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  83 ratings  ·  8 reviews
"Tropics of Discourse" develops White's ideas on interpretation in history, on the relationship between history and the novel, and on history and historicism. Vico, Croce, Derrida, and Foucault are among the figures he assesses in this work, which also offers original interpretations of a number of literary themes, including the Wild Man and the Noble Savage. White's comme ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 1st 1985 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published 1978)
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Cristina B
Jul 13, 2007 Cristina B rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of philosophy, history, and theory.
In Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism, Hayden White discusses the problems and promises of history. Human nature has made us curious, cerebral beings. We thrive on questions perhaps even more than we thrive on answers, and it is namely the more problematic issues--culture, society, and history, among others--that intrigue and baffle us. And yet, our “discourse always tends to slip away from our data towards the structures of consciousness with which we are trying to grasp them; o ...more
Aldon Rau
I have gotten behind on my reading of late, having become occupied with various other pursuits-learning to crawl, stand up, and the like. I found this book to be an excellent starting place for getting back into more intellectual pursuits. The bright color of the cover and large typeface practically commands one to investigate further. The book is not too large to be manageable, and the emphasis on making explicit one's own circumstances as a participant in discourse (say, one's mother attemptin ...more
I like Hayden White. I like the ideas he is proposing. I find him convincing. I know that he later gives alternatives to the old ways of historiography but in this collection of essays he is convincly showing how history is still an art, that the distinction between literature and history is only a farce. No one can escape language and its laws. Language which is connected to our consciousness and our structuring of the world. It's a devastating point because it makes the idea of an objective sc ...more
Mar 26, 2009 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dan by: Tom C.
Shelves: cultural-study
White analyzes the discourse of historiography—the language employed in the writing of history—calling attention to the generic narrative forms historians use, and how these latter are reflected in the figures of speech or “tropes” the historians deploy.
Good selection of essay, first few are rather outstanding. I actually liked this better than the Content of the Form, and his writing is pretty exceptional. I also think he's clearer here on the fictional nature of all history.
Should be read more than many of the late 20th century critics who are currently considered required reading for the literary scholar, IMO.
diatactic not dialectic
Good stuff, and good for you.
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Hayden White (born 1928) is a historian in the tradition of literary criticism, perhaps most famous for his work Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973). He is currently professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and he recently retired his position of professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.

White received his B.A. from Wa
More about Hayden White...
Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation The Fiction of Narrative: Essays on History, Literature, and Theory, 1957–2007 Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect El Texto Historico Como Artefacto Literario

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