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Doing History Reflexively – a workshop led by prof. dr. Ann Rigney – 4 February 2020

Date: 4 February 2020
Time: 13.00 – 17.00
Venue: Utrecht University, Janskerhof 12, meeting room 0.02 (this is a changed location).
Open to: PhD candidates who are a member of the Huizinga Institute
Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)
Coordination: Thomas Delpeut & Jon Verriet
Maximum no. of participants:  15

Language: English

Registration: Unfortunately this workshop is fully booked – please contact the Huizinga office for a spot on the waiting list



How do we engage as (theoretically informed, societally positioned, and creative) individuals with our objects of historical research and how does that personal engagement influence the outcome of our work? How far should we go in ‘giving in’ to it? The relation between researchers and the historical actors, events, and cultural objects we write about has frequently been problematized. In the past decades, this reflexivity has often given a new impetus in the way we ‘do history’. Scholars have implicitly and explicitly explored new ways of acknowledging the theoretical, methodological, and normative assumptions that shape our research, our own ‘situated’ societal position (e.g. Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, E.P. Thompson), and the cultural norms that shape our narratives (e.g. Michel de Certeau, Hayden White). However, much of this reflection remains highly theoretical and difficult to link to everyday practice. How does an early career researcher integrate reflexivity into their work in a feasible and defensible way? How can it shape our daily research practices and writing strategies? And does more reflexivity automatically result in better scholarly work?

During this workshop we focus on the daily practices of PhD’s to help

  1. figure out what reflexivity means to them as researchers
  2. find practical day-to-day tools to ‘do history reflexively’, by focusing on 1. research practices, 2. data interpretation, and 3. writing strategies.

 Literature [will be provided]

  • Ann Rigney, “Being an Improper Historian” in: Keith Jenkins, Sue Morgan and Alun Munslow, eds., Manifestos for History (London 2007) 149-159.
  • Jo Tollebeek, ‘“Turn’d to Dust and Tears”. Revisiting the Archive’, History and Theory 43 (2004) 237-248.
  • Dossier with examples of reflexive approaches

Preparatory assignment

Participants will prepare a short contemplation (1/2 to 1 A4), containing:

  • A short discussion concerning what reflection means to them and their research project
  • An outline of one personal issue/problem/question that has come up in their own research with regard to reflexive practices
  • 2-4 examples of scholarly works (articles, books, websites etc.) illustrating how reflexivity can be put into practice. Explain these with ca. 2 sentences per example.

 Please submit your contemplation ( before Tuesday 21 January 2020.


13.00-13.30      Introductory lecture by Ann Rigney

13.30-14.30      Session 1 – Research practices

14.30-15.00      Break

15.00-16.00      Session 2 – Data interpretation

16.00-17.00       Session 3 – Writing strategies