The Sweep of History

Many if not most contemporary historians would probably agree with the statement that “the typical mode of explanation used by historians [is] narrative.” (Roberts 2001) Storytelling, then, is not the difference between history and fiction. Instead, we could say, the scope of the story is what differentiates historical and fictional writing. For the past four months, I have been comparing a corpus of historical texts with a corpus of novels in English, French, and German. Based on my interpretation of the results, fictional texts have a smaller scope than histories, thematically, structurally, and lexically.

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This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Westcott based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: Matthew Lincoln and Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad.