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Speculative Histories and Futures


Write short responses to two of the three questions below:


1. Anthony Meredith, the fictional historian behind the Forward, gives this historical overview of the Iron Heel or the Oligarchy. How is history imagined in the passage below? What place does the Iron Heel have in that history?


The rise of the Oligarchy will always remain a cause of secret wonder to the historian and the philosopher. Other great historical events have their place in social evolution. They were inevitable. Their coming could have been predicted with the same certitude that astronomers to-day predict the outcome of the movements of stars. Without these other great historical events, social evolution could not have proceeded. Primitive communism, chattel slavery, serf slavery, and wage slavery were necessary stepping-stones in the evolution of society. But it were ridiculous to assert that the Iron Heel was a necessary stepping-stone. Rather, to-day, is it adjudged a step aside, or a step backward, to the social tyrannies that made the early world a hell, but that were as necessary as the Iron Heel was unnecessary. (6-7)


2. In The Footnote: A Curious History (1997), Anthony Grafton establishes that footnotes signal authority and membership within the historical profession. While they predated the late nineteenth century, they became increasingly common in historical scholarship. Sometimes, however, they appear as an unartful trash pile of research items and fail to command the reader’s attention. The Iron Heel’s early chapters throw us into a forest of footnotes. Review some of them now. What purpose do they serve? What is their relationship to the rest of the narrative?


3. Why does Ernest Everhard wage such a vicious war against philosophy? And what relationship do their derided intellectual approaches have to Ernest’s championing of the working class?

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