This introduction outlines Ivan Jablonka’s theory and practice of
writing the social sciences as foregrounded in three of his most noted, recent
books, A History of the Grandparents I Never Had, History is a Contemorary Literature,
and Laëtitia. As he outlines in his own contribution here, Jablonka
advances rigorous, methodical research that nevertheless details the subjective
investment of the researcher while at the same time utilizing creative
“literary” techniques to engage a wide spectrum of readers well beyond the
habitual circles of academic specialists. The essays contributed by Julie Fette,
Sarah Fishman, Melanie Hawthorne, Don Reid, and Nathan Bracher explore
various facets of Jablonka’s approach, including, respectively: writing history
with family stories, resisting the erosion of factual reasoning in the Trump
years, pursuing biographies of supposedly non-descript lives, appreciating
the importance of Communist cultural networks in postwar France, and
revisiting the role of the subject in the social sciences.
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