Postmodern theory might have finally killed off the utopian ideal of history as an objective science, but it has arguably left a vacuum, with no comprehensive debate on the role of subjectivity in history writing and its potential challenges and benefits. As scholars we are trained to put aside subjective responses in our analyses, and yet personal interests, values and experiences continue to inform the work of design historians, from our choice of subject matter and theoretical frameworks to our methodological approaches and conclusions. This topic has received occasional treatment in the broader realm of history from David Lowenthal’s seminal book The Past is a Foreign Country to the work of Dominick LaCapra (from History & Criticism to History in Transit), but remains unexplored in design history—a field where, we will argue, the role of subjectivity is particularly prominent. This special issue contributes an examination of this under-developed topic relevant to the field of design history and beyond.
- Design History