Complete Story

Kellner, Hans

Special Issue 44:3, pages 234-242

Is History Ever Timely? 

Abstract:  Timely history is chronological history, adopted by Herodotus to imitate human experience and the “arrow of time.” Since explanation is presumed to follow from this choice, anachronism becomes the cardinal historical sin because it is untimely. Untimely histories abound, however, in media where images prevail, such as painting, film, and video; in these modes of delivery, chronological fragmentation, juxtaposition, and parataxis force new ways of seeing the past. Written narrative would seem to be the exception that relies on timely presentation. A close look at historical texts reveals, however, that they are just as “untimely” as other modes of representation.

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