Journal Article

Sources of History: Myth and Image

Nancy K. Levene

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 74, issue 1, pages 79-101
Published in print March 2006 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Sources of History: Myth and Image

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In the contemporary human sciences in general, and the study of religion in particular, history is a discourse of immense power and reach. But its role is paradoxical, for although it is charged with dissolving the uniqueness or transcendence of any given point of view, its own supremacy is often taken for granted, even in the post-Foucauldian world where it is common to attack the objectivist aspirations of historicist discourse. What I call for is not simply a more self-conscious concept of history but an investigation of what one might call, following Wallace Stevens, “the substance of [its] region”: the history and scope of history itself as one particular way of being in, and seeing, the world. This is decidedly not to concede that there is something that escapes history but rather to pay closer attention to the myth that there is something that does, and to the ways in which this myth—far from being a mistake—is crucial to conceiving of the borders of history even insofar as everything comes (as everything does) under its critical gaze.

Journal Article.  9807 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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