Integrity and Historical Research

There have been serious debates between historians, novelists and filmmakers as to how best present historical narratives. When writers and filmmakers talk of using historical research with integrity, what exactly do they mean? Integrity and Historical Research examines this question in detail. The first chapter discusses the concept of integrity. The chapters that follow reflect on this philosophical treatment in the light of fiction and film that deals with history in a number of ways. How should writers and filmmakers use lives? Can, and may, people who are now dead and who may have lived long ago, be defamed?

The authors include academics, historians, social historians, medievalists, oral historians, literary theorists, historical novelists and script writers. They examine the theoretical influences and practical choices that involve and concern writers and filmmakers who rely on historical research. The desire to be accurate may often conflict with the need to produce a work that goes beyond the mere depiction of events in order to excite the interest of readers and to hold that interest. At the same time there is a developing emphasis on historians, to write well in clear, accessible prose, which may involve using the novelists’ techniques. How much license may be given to writers of fiction and filmmakers in their depiction of historical characters and events? This book begins to answer this question, while inviting further discussion. // Table of Contents


1. The Concept of Integrity. Tony Gibbons

2. ‘Who Would Want to Believe that Except in the Service of the Bleakest Realism?’ Historical Fiction and Ethics. Jerome de Groot

3. Transgressive Legacies of Memory: The Concept of Techné in Primo Levi’s Periodic Table. Catalina Botez

4. Fictions and Histories. Patricia Duncker

5. The Evil That Men Do Lives after Them and the Good is Oft Interred within Their Bones. Emily Sutherland

6. When Is It Time For ‘Writing With An Untrammelled Pen’? Reconciling the South Australian Settler Colony with Its Violent Past in Simpson Newland’s Historical Novel, Paving the Way: A Romance of the Australian Bush. Rick Hosking

7. Using lives: Working with Life Stories in a Time of Revolution. Nicholas Brown

8. Integrity and Oral History: Choices Facing The Oral Historian. Angela Franks

9. ‘Nude Scenes of Lovemaking and Violation on Stage and Screen’: Heloise and Abelard, Old Bones and the Uses of the Past. Juanita Feros Ruys

10. Integrity at the Intersection: Peripheries, Herstories and Film. Maria Reimondez

11. Historians in Fiction and Film. Dave Mosler and Jessica Murrell