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Clio's Laws

Clio's Laws
On History and Language

A thought-provoking collection that explores the process of perceiving and writing about history, nationalism, and identity.

Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowment in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture

December 2019
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272 pages | 6 x 9 |

Offering a unique perspective on the very notions and practices of storytelling, history, memory, and language, Clio’s Laws collects ten essays (some new and some previously published in Spanish) by a revered voice in global history. Taking its title from the Greek muse of history, this opus considers issues related to the historian’s craft, including nationalism and identity, and draws on Tenorio-Trillo’s own lifetime of experiences as a historian with deep roots in both Mexico and the United States. By turns deeply ironic, provocative, and experimental, and covering topics both lowbrow and highbrow, the essays form a dialogue with Clio about idiosyncratic yet profound matters.

Tenorio-Trillo presents his own version of an ars historica (what history is, why we write it, and how we abuse it) alongside a very personal essay on the relationship between poetry and history. Other selections include an exploration of the effects of a historian’s autobiography, a critique of history’s celebratory obsession, and a guide to reading history in an era of internet searches and too many books. A self-described exile, Tenorio-Trillo has produced a singular tour of the historical imagination and its universal traits.

  • Preamble
  • I. On History
    • Chapter 1. The Laws of History
    • Chapter 2. Poetry and History
    • Chapter 3. The Historical Imagination
    • Chapter 4. Reading History Today
    • Chapter 5. Celebrating History: Between Ser and Estar
    • Chapter 6. Self-History and Autobiography
    • Chapter 7. Six Life Stories by Heart
  • II. On Language
    • Chapter 8. Polyglotism and Monolingualism
    • Chapter 9. Amar queriendo como en otro tiempo: Language, Memory, and Boleros
    • Chapter 10. Wicked Tongue (Extracts)
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo
Chicago, Illinois

Tenorio-Trillo is the Samuel N. Harper Professor of History, Romance Languages, and Literatures at the University of Chicago and an associate professor at the Centro de lnvestigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City. He is the author of several previous books, including La Paz: 1876 and I Speak of the City: Mexico City at the Turn of the Century, which won the Spiro Kostof Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians.


Clio’s Laws constitutes a fresh depiction of the way history is now conceived and written, far removed from the rigid canons established by its historicist founders...A whole gallery of historical figures, professional historians and literary authors file past over the course of the book, hugely enriching what could have been reduced to a general survey of the most important ideas on the relationship between history and language....Clio’s Laws is undoubtedly a valuable and original contribution to the field of historiography and historical-literary criticism, as well as to Latin American studies.”
Journal of the Philosophy of History

“A masterpiece of history and philosophy, this book is in dialogue with European, British, and American history but not entirely centered on it. It will spark debates around the craft of the historian.”
Moramay López Alonso, Rice University


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca