Research topic: Historiography
Historiography is the study of historical writing.
Historiographers survey historians' choice of topics, study the explanations employed by historians, look for underlying views and generalised opinions, investigate the influences of other historians and the extent to which the writing of history has been influenced by historians' political or religious views and social situations and contemporaneous trends. Accordingly, at its deepest level historiography addresses the ways in which knowledge comes into existence. As such it is both an area of textual studies and an aspect of the sociology of knowledge.
An example from Norwegian history would involve the so-called "Norwegian school of history" in the decades after 1814. Norwegian historians at that time were very conscious of their national identity and were keen to show that Norway's history was both heroic and distinct from the histories of its neighbours, e.g., by demonstrating that humans migrated into Norway from the north and not – as was the case with Norway's neighbours – from the south (a theory that has long since been abandoned). Such an approach was obviously closely connected with Norway's need as a recently founded state to emphasise its national identity. Here the general situation in society had a clear effect on the way history was written.