Gwinn, Ian A. (2009)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The study of U.S diplomatic history and the Cold War has undergone a marked transformation in the analytical methods, conceptual approaches, and theories used by practitioners in the field. However, innovation and sophistication has seldom transferred into the study of the historiographical literature itself. In an attempt to buck this trend, this dissertation posits a theory of historiographical development in order to interrogate the meaning of the orthodox-revisionist debate on the origins of the Cold War. Borrowing insights from the literature on ‘critical historiography’, it suggests that historiographical shifts occur in the twin struggle of defining the boundaries of the historical field and the construction of U.S identity. It documents the process of ‘disciplinisation’ that Cold War revisionism underwent, reconfiguring both the parameters of the field and the form of revisionist interpretations. It moves on to suggest that legitimation of revisionism as a form of historical knowledge was facilitated by conceptual shifts in the meaning of U.S identity and a rearticulation of the orthodox narrative, which incorporated and thereby marginalised the revisionist critique. Finally, a few thoughts are raised as to the politicised nature of all historiography in the way that it negotiates challenges to disciplinary practices and boundaries.
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