Posts Tagged ‘Keith Hopkins’

I’ve been involved in an interesting exchange on the Twitter this morning with Helen Rogers (@helenrogers19c) and Will Pooley (@willpooley), both of whom work on different aspects of historical rhetoric, narrative and creative historiography about – well, those things, starting with the question of why ‘narrative’ is sometimes (often?) regarded as a dirty word by academic historians: too easy and simplistic, too focused on Great Individuals and traditional political/military history, too closely associated with popular history, too literary and hence liable to undermine modern critical historiography’s claim to have transcended the old ‘history as art’ model. Of course, none of those things is necessarily true, but that doesn’t necessarily make a difference, given how much is at stake in mainstream analytical historiography’s claim to offer a trustworthy, objective account of the past (and how fragile we know that claim actually is).

Partly as a distraction from the ongoing ghastliness elsewhere, this has prompted me to offer another installment in my – very, very slow – project to make available copies of various old articles that may not be readily available. This is one of my favourites, perhaps because of its utter obscurity: Narrative Economy, first published in P.F. Bang, M. Ikeguchi & H.G. Ziche, eds., Ancient Economies, Modern Methodologies: archaeology, comparative history, models and institutions (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006), pp. 27-47 – an analysis of the different rhetoric approaches of two historians of the Roman economy, Keith Hopkins and Richard Duncan-Jones. The idea was that economic history appears to be the most unrhetorical and artless of sub-disciplines, so demonstrating that it’s actually as rhetorical as everything else would make a general point about historiography…

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Given that they possess astonishingly super-sensitive, multi-directional hearing, as detailed in a series of television programmes this week, you might think that the sodding cats would hear that it is pouring with rain this morning, and so go back to sleep for a bit rather than prodding me at 5 am until I get up and open the catflap so that they can poke their noses outside, stomp around angrily for half an hour because it’s raining and I’m refusing to do anything about it, and then go back to bed. I find it more or less impossible to go back to sleep once I’m awake, whatever ghastly hour of the morning it may be, and so I’ve already had two cups of tea, caught up on Twitter, cleaned up the kitchen after yesterday’s brewing session and transferred the experimental Blackcurrant Stout into the fermenting bin before sitting down to contemplate Tony Keen’s fascinating piece yesterday on the personal voice in classical blogging.

Okay, quick readers’ poll: did your reaction to the previous paragraph tend more towards “for goodness’ sake stop wittering and talk about something with a bit of substance” or towards “please tell us more of the home life of a professor of ancient history and his cats”? (more…)

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