Events and Periods as Concepts for Organizing Historical Knowledge

Ryan Shaw. Events and Periods as Concepts for Organizing Historical Knowledge. Ph.D. dissertation. Advisor: Michael Buckland. University of California, Berkeley. 2010.


Events and periods are not objectively existing phenomena, but concepts we use to organize our knowledge of history. They make historical change comprehensible and help us orient ourselves with respect to the wider culture in which we participate. Thus they are indispensable for describing both the content of history scholarship and the context of documents that serve as evidence for that scholarship. As historical discourse shifts its emphases and new aspects of the past come to be considered significant, periods and events are subject to constant change. Despite this change, we can model historical periods and events in systems of knowledge organization because it is possible to discern and formally describe relatively stable recurrent patterns in their narration.

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Last updated:

September 20, 2016