Natalie Zemon Davis

Natalie Zemon Davis (born November 8, 1928) is an American feminist and historian of early modern France.

Born in Detroit, she graduated from Cranbrook Kingswood School. She is professor ermerita of history at Princeton and currently adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is married to mathematician and science fiction writer Chan Davis. Her main interests are in social and cultural history, especially of those previously ignored by historians. Davis makes use of numerous sources such as judicial records, plays, pamphlets, notarial records, tax rolls, books and welfare documents. She is a leading proponent of cross-disciplinary history, which consists of combining history with disciplines as anthropology, art history, ethnography and literacy theory. She is best known for serving as the technical advisor on the 1982 French film Le retour de Martin Guerre (known in English as The Return of Martin Guerre); in 1983 she wrote a book of the same name with her interpretation of the story of Martin Guerre.

Davis is a great believer in the possibility of multiple and mutually incomparable "truths" co-existing besides one another. She believes that the use of fiction could explain the past better than the traditional reliance on veritable facts. For this reason, Davis feels film with its ability to tell different versions of the same story and to present multiple viewpoints could potentially explain history better than can the traditional methods of history. Sometimes, her work features "interviews" in which she holds imaginary conversations with the subjects of her books.

(from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

13 January 2013