History and Theory of “Revisionism”

History and TheoryThe historiographic journal History and Theory just published a special issue examining the problem of “revisionism” in the writing of history.  Among the various articles, one in particular caught my attention as being especially relevant to historians of psychology:

Recognizing the contingent entanglement between historiography’s social and political roles and the conception of the discipline as purely factual, this essay provides a detailed analysis of “revision” and its connection to “revisionism.” This analysis uses a philosophical approach that begins with the commonplaces of our understanding as expressed in dictionaries, which are compared and contrasted to display relevant confusions. The essay then turns to examining the questions posed by History and Theory‘s Call for Papers announcing its Theme Issue on Revision in History, and, where philosophically relevant, answers them. The issue of paradigm change proved to be quite significant and required particular attention. A “paradigm” is analyzed in terms of Quine’s “web of belief,” and that web is itself explained as an ongoing process of revision, in analogy with Rawls’s concept of pure procedural justice. Adopting this approach helps clarify the entanglement between politics and historiographical revision.
(Gorman, 2007; see below for full citation information)

Note: The inclusion of a posting about a “pure history” journal reflects the continuation of AHP‘s expansion into related methodological news, going beyond matters relating solely to the history of psychology and into what it means to “do” history in general. But that doesn’t mean we’re leaving psychology behind. Indeed, the publisher describes this particular journal as follows:

History and Theory leads the way in exploring the nature of history. Prominent international thinkers contribute their reflections in the following areas: critical philosophy of history, speculative philosophy of history, historiography, history of historiography, historical methodology, critical theory, and time and culture. Related disciplines are also covered within the journal, including interactions between history and the natural and social sciences, the humanities, and psychology.
(my italics)

The inclusion of a journal not indexed by PsycInfo thus represents an expansion of our coverage into areas not typically seen within psychology: “added value,” as the saying goes.

Published quarterly at Wesleyan University, in affiliation with Blackwell, History and Theory is edited by Brian C. Fay and Richard T. Vann.


  • Gorman, J.  (2007).  The commonplaces of “revision” and their implications for historiographical understanding.  History and Theory, 46(4), 20-44.

About Jeremy Burman

Jeremy Trevelyan Burman is a senior doctoral student in York University’s Department of Psychology, specializing in the history of developmental psychology and its theory (especially that pertaining to Jean Piaget). Prior to returning to academia, he was a producer at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.