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Empathy and History: Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education

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Volume 35

Making Sense of History

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Empathy and History

Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education

Tyson Retz

256 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-919-6 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2018)

ISBN  978-1-80073-438-8 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Not Yet Published (June 2022)

eISBN 978-1-78533-920-2 eBook

View CartYour country: United States - edit   Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub format Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Tyson Retz’s Empathy and History is an ambitious and well-researched book, which sheds light on the complex origins and development of empathy in the discipline of history, history education and the philosophy of history. The author delivers a compelling exploration of the philosophical context, from which the concept of empathy emerged and argues for a return to metaphysics in philosophical reflection on empathy that focuses on the object of knowledge into which the empathetic inquirer investigates, as much as on the process of knowing itself.” • European Journal of Cultural & Political Sociology

“This book might appeal most to those who want to learn more about philosophical approaches to history, especially those with a metaphysical orientation. The argument that Retz has constructed with this text is complex, thoroughly sourced, fluidly constructed, compelling, and thought provoking for the intellectually curious mind.” • Theory & Research in Social Education

“Retz’s invaluable project of disciplinary distillation combines his knack for pedagogy and philosophy as he successfully historicises the concept of empathy and the relevant currents of thought which are attached to it. In this comprehensive account he carefully builds the contextual foundations of empathy’s place in historical thinking and pedagogy and marries these seemingly disparate constituents to demonstrate how they have influenced one another.” • Rethinking History

“…a significant contribution to the literature on understanding the role of empathy in history education. [The author] should be congratulated for providing a comprehensive view of human empathy and education through a historical lens. Overall, this book is recommended as a critical reference for scholars and anyone paying attention to history and education, and it might be a worthy, challenging read for students in this field.” • History of Education

Empathy and History, Retz’s first book, is a significant and timely contribution to the long-standing and divisive debate about the understanding and role of empathy in the human sciences.” • History of Education Review

“It is truly fascinating to accompany Retz as he examines international perceptions, transfers and combinations of empathy-related concepts across the world.” • Juliane Brauer, Max Planck Institute for Human Development


Since empathy first emerged as an object of inquiry within British history education in the early 1970s, teachers, scholars and policymakers have debated the concept’s role in the teaching and learning of history. Yet over the years this discussion has been confined to specialized education outlets, while empathy’s broader significance for history and philosophy has too often gone unnoticed. Empathy and History is the first comprehensive account of empathy’s place in the practice, teaching, and philosophy of history. Beginning with the concept’s roots in nineteenth-century German historicism, the book follows its historical development, transformation, and deployment while revealing its relevance for practitioners today.

Tyson Retz is Associate Professor at the University of Stavanger, Norway. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Melbourne.

Subject: History (General) Educational Studies


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