An empirical Hayden White? On “Literary theory and historical writing”

Edoardo Tortarolo



Hayden White has advocated the emancipatory function of history writing. To do so, he stressed that historical writing is the product of an act of “invention”. The emphasis on invention is not the equivalent of the rejection of empirical reality and of the legitimacy of an unaccountable narrative. On the contrary: Hayden White drew his understanding of invention from his deep knowledge of medieval culture, which entails that making sense of the world experience has to be recreated (i.e. invented) through an accurate use of language, of its implications and impact, of its rhetorical, poetical and symbolical resources.


Historical discourse; literature; fiction; invention.

Citation reference:

Tortarolo, Edoardo. “An empirical Hayden White? “Literary theory and historical writing” (1989).” Práticas da História,
Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past, n.º 6 (2018): 51-58.



< Práticas da História, nº 6 (2018)