In some cases, it has been claimed that a previously neglected analytical or thematic category has identified trends such as the Alltagsgeschichte (history of daily life), the Italian microstoria and the history of women and/or gender. In some cases, a happy expression has come to designate a change of orientation, such as the “linguistic turn”.
Below, we present a brief overview of the most significant objectives, socio-cultural contexts, authors and works of the different historiographical trends distinguishable in the 20th and early 21st centuries, especially in the West. Our tour starts with the dominant historiographical model in the early the 20th century and concludes with the commentary on the controversial role played by history in today’s media environment.
Until the renewal of the writing of the history advocated by the French journal Annales d’Histoire Economique et Sociale in 1929, the predominant model for historians could be characterised as “history that does not neglect the story, attentive to the great figures, to the exemplary destinations, to the fate of nations and empires”. A history of political predominance made through careful criticism of sources (especially texts), seen from above, punctuated by great (and not so great) events. A history that the militant Lucien Febvre, the co-founder of Annales with M. Bloch, and many others would later describe as “historicising history” and “histoire événementiel” (“factual history”).
From the point of view of the theory of history (of historiography as metahistory), this dominant historiographical model was a roughly harmonious combination of classical German historicism embodied by Ranke, Hegelian idealism and Comtian scientific positivism in an atmosphere prone to exalting the nation itself. It has been said that the history of France between 1870 (Franco-Prussian War) and 1914 (the start of the First World War) was a prelude to widespread patriotic mobilisation.
The interest in this historiographical model that was demonstrated by the publication and systematic criticism of historical sources is still quite valid.