10. Ben White points out that even more historical modes of inquiry are still deeply text-centered, and that even a historicist pedagogy would equally entail a textualist focus; while this is true, I do feel that it would take a major collective shift to treat theory as a historical product rather than as a system of concepts. Of course, there is a pedagogical advantage to reading these texts as theory rather than as historical documents: a purely internal reading requires no background knowledge. Since most classroom participants, in my experience, are not experts in the relevant historical contexts (philosophy in early modern Europe, early colonial anthropology, etc), a true historical analysis would be logistically difficult to perform, for lack of relevant expertise.
[ return to text ]