Answered By: Gretchen Scronce
Last Updated: May 21, 2019     Views: 3290

The overarching narrative or ‘grand récit’ that gives order and meaning to the historical record, especially in the large-scale philosophies of history of writers such as Hegel, Marx, or Spencer.
--from Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

The consideration of what history is in a philosophical sense. The Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye was the first person to use this term, but it is American historian Hayden White who has given the term its most complete meaning. For Frye it meant simply the speculative philosophy of history, while for White it is the examination both of what history is and how that has changed over time. White is particularly interested in the problematic posed by the fact that history is a form of narrative, a feature it shares with fiction, and as he shows in Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in 19th-Century Europe (1973), this has a significant influence on the range of meanings that can be given to a set of basic facts. Was the French Revolution inevitable? If so, why didn't similar revolutions occur elsewhere? Was it a tragedy? If so, from whose perspective? Fredric Jameson's concept of metacommentary takes a similar approach to the analysis of critical theories.
--from Oxford Dictionary of Critical Theory