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Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Footnotes

The context of this paragraph is a criticism of "new" ways of writing history.
The liberation from the tyranny of the discipline takes many forms. At the simplest level, it is a liberation from footnotes (or endnotes, as is now commonly the case). Not only is there no longer any consensus about the form of notes; there is no longer any presumption in favor of notes in any form, so that many scholarly books are being published, even by university presses, without any notes at all. One historian, having written a controversial (and unfootnoted) book on the Holocaust, explained to an interviewer that footnotes are a "fetish [that] very often interferes with careful intellection and rumination." Another historian, presenting a revisionist view of American Cold War policies, claims that footnotes and bibliographies are "poor jokes" for a book like his, because the source of any quotation is meaningless except in relation to all the other documents and to the author's "process of reflection." If the reader, he argues, trusts the author because the source of the quotation is cited, there is no reason to distrust him because it is not.
What!? I would go ahead and be meticulous about including footnotes. Incidentally, Gertrude Himmelfarb cites all her sources, I just didn' include them. You can get the details in her book, The New History and the Old (pp. 21-22), from which the above quote was taken.

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