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Definition of HISTORIOGRAPHY
a: the writing of history; especially: the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods
b: the principles, theory, and history of historical writing <a course in historiography>
: the product of historical writing : a body of historical literature
— his·to·rio·graph·i·cal\-ē-ə-ˈgra-fi-kəl\ also his·to·rio·graph·ic\-fik\adjective
Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. Two major tendencies in history writing are evident from the beginnings of the Western tradition: the concept of historiography as the accumulation of records and the concept of history as storytelling, filled with explanations of cause and effect. In the 5th century BC the Greek historians Herodotus and, later, Thucydides emphasized firsthand inquiry in their efforts to impose a narrative on contemporary events. The dominance of Christian historiography by the 4th century introduced the idea of world history as a result of divine intervention in human affairs, an idea that prevailed throughout the Middle Ages in the work of such historians as Bede. Humanism and the gradual secularization of critical thought influenced early modern European historiography. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the development of modern methods of historical investigation based on the use of primary source materials. Modern historians, aiming for a fuller picture of the past, have tried to reconstruct a record of ordinary human activities and practices; the French Annales school has been influential in this respect.