Periodization: Cutting Up the Past, Volume 62
by Marshall Brown
Duke University Press
Paper: 978-0-8223-6519-8

Why do we need to divide time into periods, and how do these divisions of time contribute to or impede our understanding? Unlike other studies of periodization that limit discussions to whether particular period definitions are true and accurate, Periodization delves into our wariness of such categorizing and the impulse to categorize historical time in the first place.

This special issue of MLQ covers examples of periodization from the early modern to the present, including a range from the individual year to the longue durée and incorporates a variety of methods from close empirical study to global concern. In the lead essay, Russell A. Berman argues that periodization saves us from the dangers of both anachronism and presentism. Srinivas Aravamudan, updating Vico, reminds usthat we lose the past if we simply leave it unexamined. In “Perioddity” Timothy J. Reiss reflects on the crossings of chronology with geology in long-range and global perspectives.

This collection strives to turn discomfort with periodization into a constructive discourse.

Contributors. Srinivas Aravamudan, Russell Berman, Marshall Brown, Margreta de Grazia, Robert J. Griffin, Anne K. Mellor, Michael North, Timothy J. Reiss

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