The Fabric of the Past

Townsend Blog
October 31, 2014
Tears in the Fabric

Theorizing about the past was the afternoon's topic of conversation on the UC Berkeley campus when the Townsend Center gathered five distinguished historians for a lively panel centered around ideas developed in Eelco Runia's latest book Moved by the Past (Columbia, 2014). The event marked the public beginning of the Dutch historian, psychologist, and novelist's residency as the Townsend Center's Avenali Chair in the Humanities. Runia was joined by a panel of influential historians: Hayden White, whose now classic text Metahistory sparked a lasting scholarly conversation about historical narrative and a debate about the very nature of history as a discipline; modern Japanese historian and theorist of history Harry Harootunian; Ethan Kleinberg, intellectual historian of existentialism in France; and Martin Jay, whose history of the Frankfurt School, The Dialectical Imagination, first published in the same year as White's Metahistory, has been translated into over a dozen languages.