The Pleating of History: Weaving the Threads of Nationhood

Martin Ball


As any etymologist knows, the word ‘text’ is derived from the past participle of the Latin verb texere, to weave. Text is therefore something that is ‘woven’. It’s a persuasive metaphor, to imagine writing in terms of the warp and weft of ideas and words, of narrative threads woven together to become a piece of fabric. The idea of history as fabric brings together a whole different set of tropes, not just of weaving, but of the very materiality of fabric. Does the fabric have a nap, or a pattern? Is it cut with the grain, or on the bias? What of its folds, its seams? All these qualities of fabric have application in the interpretation of history, and some of these images are already familiar in historical discourse.


text; weaving; history; historical discourse; etymology; interpretation; nationhood

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