History as Narrative

August 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

In terms of relativity of my own thoughts and the context of my project, Louch’s established argument for historians assuming an objective “…to lay a continuum of events related in such a way as to meet the condition of narrative smoothness.” where those connections or events are not casual nor statistical. In this article, Louch puts forward Strawson’s beliefs where a visual model suggests that explanation can be provided simply by filling in the gaps of perception and that narrative, ideally, stands proxy for experience. So, could I then suggest that illustration as narrative stands proxy for an experience of historical interpretation? The article goes on to suggest that a Historian re-creates for his readers what he has seen or studied, thus provides a proxy experience for an audience. Therefore, as the illustrator, I too am re-creating a proxy experience for an audience, but through a different medium.

Historiography is grounded by explanation of cause and effect of events. The concept of cause “…is highly protean” as a style of narration. Louch suggests that narration is one possible technique of explanation, yet the task is cumulative – “…a business of filling in more and more gaps. Thus eliminating or softening the breaks in narrative smoothness.” – and consequently it is unreasonable to suppose that there could ever be a finished account of such a narrative. This is further enforced by the fact that the composition of a narrative is subject to perspective as we see different chains  of events and are given different starting points and finish lines.

All in all Louch states that a –

Historian sees a sequence of events as connected, belonging together. having an identity, and then constructs narrative that reveals the course of evolution, of connectedness, among these events.

Taking this argument in a more abstract form, Illustration is the narrative tool that fills the gaps of perception of a historical narrative. This is more of a haptic experience as opposed to an academic one. So the illustrations of my project potentially provides a visual experience that stands as a proxy for an audience – thus, by engaging with this project, the ‘reader’ is a proxy to a visual historical experience. This experience would inform your own narrative through illustration as a design of historiography.


Louch, A.R. 1969, ‘History as Narrative’, History and Theory, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. pp. 54-70.


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