Microhistory and the Historical Imagination: New Frontiers

An issue of: Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies Volume: 47 Issue: 1


Microhistory first developed in the 1970s and 1980s to meet a particular set of challenges in writing medieval and early modern history. This special issue of JMEMS will explore how microhistory has evolved as it has contested the usefulness of grand narratives for understanding historical problems where life was lived in fragmented, small-scale societies. Submissions are invited that seek to illustrate certain microhistorical practices that continue to evolve, especially in medieval and early modern contexts. Essays might focus on reducing the scale of analysis while “playing the ladder game” with different scales of analysis; on working not just with clues but also with silences and gaps in the evidence and with fragmentary understandings of events; on blending social and cultural history by viewing culture as social action or as lived and reflected experience; on deploying more sophisticated textual frames of analysis from law, science, medicine, and other historical contexts; and on examining innovations in narrative structure and storytelling. The aim of this special issue is to sharpen the microhistorian’s focus on small clues in the sources to face the dead ends and discontinuities that characterize microhistorical research.