Relativism, Alternate History, and the Forgetful Reader

Relativism, Alternate History, and the Forgetful Reader : Reading Science Fiction and Historiography

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The writer of alternate history asks "what if?" What if one historical event were different, what would the world look like today? In a similar way, the postmodern philosopher of history suggests that history is literature, or that if we read certain historical details differently we would get a distinctly different interpretation of past events. While the science fiction alternate history means to illuminate the past, to increase our understanding of past events, however, the postmodern approach to history typically suggests that such understanding is impossible. To the postmodern philosopher, history is like literature in that it does not offer the reader access to the past, but only an interesting story. Building on criticism that suggests personal psychological reasons for this obscuring the past, and using a literary theory of readership, this book challenges the postmodern approach to history. It channels the speculative power of science fiction to read the works of postmodern philosophy of history as alternate histories themselves, and to map the limits and pathology of their forgetful reading of the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 184 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 17.78mm | 430.91g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739196170
  • 9780739196175

Review quote

Relativism, Alternate History, and the Forgetful Reader is timely, original, and essential reading for anyone interested in the fascinating relationship between science fiction and historiography. It combines theoretical sophistication with a detailed knowledge of the relevant texts. I expect it to have a major impact on all subsequent scholarship in the field. -- Clayton Koelb, University of North Carolinashow more

About Derek Thiess

Derek Thiess teaches in the department of English at Georgia Gwinnet more

Table of contents

Table of Contents Acknowledgments Introduction: The Namshub of History Chapter 1: The Forgetful Reader Chapter 2: Forgetting the Scientific Revolution Chapter 3: Trivial Literature and the Techno-Pagan Nazi Chapter 4: The Da Vinci Code Phenomenon and Orthodoxy Chapter 5: Madness and the Text Conclusions Bibliography About the Authorshow more