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Obituary: Hayden White (1928-2018)

Hayden White

Hayden White
Image Credit: Bernd Wannenmacher

News from Mar 12, 2018

It is with great sadness that faculty members and students of the John F. Kennedy Institute have learnt of the death of Professor Hayden White. The highly regarded historian and literary scholar passed away on March 5 in Santa Cruz. White was professor emeritus at the History of Consciousness Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz and professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.

White’s academic oeuvre includes the groundbreaking study Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973), Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (1979), The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (1987), and Figural Realism (1999). The final work of his career, The Practical Past, was published in 2014. White's oeuvre focused on issues of historiography in scholarly and literary formats. His voice was instrumental in international debates about the status of political utopias or forms of public memory.

Professor Hayden White maintained close academic links to Berlin. In 2003 he was a fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. In the summer term of 2010 White was a visiting professor at the Kennedy Institute's Graduate School of North American Studies and accepted invitations to the Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL). In June 2015 the Department of Philosophy and Humanities awarded him the honorary doctorate of Freie Universität Berlin in recognition of his contributions to the analysis of the rhetorical and narrative structures of (German) historical writing of the 19th century.

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