Nouvelle histoire  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The term new history was indebted to the French term nouvelle histoire, itself associated particularly with the historian Jacques Le Goff and Pierre Nora, members of the third generation of the Annales School, which appeared in the 1970s. The movement can be associated with cultural history, history of representations and histoire des mentalités. However, how meaningful the term ever was, and how representative it is of how historians see their work today, is open to question.

The new historical movement's inclusive definition of the proper matter of historical study has also given it the label total history. The movement was contrasted with the traditional ways of writing history which particularly characterised the nineteenth century, resisting their focus on politics and 'great men'; their insistence on composing historical narrative; their emphasis on administrative documents as key source materials; their concern with individuals' motivations and intentions as explanatory factors for historical events; and their willingness to accept the possibility of historians' objectivity.

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