's Guide to the TOEFL® Test Podcast

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Monday, January 02, 2006

TOEFL® Podcast #13

Lecture on Historiography

Audio Index:
Slow dialog: 1:30
Explanations: 4:11
Fast dialog: 13:28
Comprehension: 15:15

Ah, good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Dr. Robert Lambert, and I am your guest speaker today. As I am sure that Dr. McQuillan told you, I am a visiting scholar from another university. Today we are going to talk about history, or more exactly, historiography. Historians used many different types of evidence in their work. These include a variety of sources, including written or printed information, interviews for contemporary historians, inscriptions, artwork, and findings from archaeology. Some of the most important names in the development of how historians go about doing their work were Leopold Ranke and AJP Taylor. These historians changed the way we look at history, and how we go about writing it.

Of course, historians have been debating the best way to write history since the ancient Greeks. The first great Greek historian, Herodotus, who we sometimes call the Father of History, had his own rather peculiar approaches to history and its writing. Other ancient historians, including Thucydides and Tacitus, also wrote about historiography, although the methods they used would certainly not pass muster today.

It is important to distinguish between the historian and the chronicler. A chronicler typically records advances as they happen, and often are simple listings of all of names, dates, and events. A history, on the other hand, is a systematic attempt to understand underlying causes and reasons for historical development.

I’ll answer questions in a few minutes, but first let’s look at the roots of historiography in the Greco-Roman context…