To read the article:
The Story of Big History on JSTOR
See, for instance, Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (1998).
Paul Davies, Superforce: The Search for a Unified Theory of Nature (1984; repr., 1995), xii.
Fred Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity (2010), 1. David Christian coined the term "Big History" in his "The Case for 'Big History,'" Journal of World History 2:2 (1991): 223-238.
See, for instance, Fred Spier, The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until Today (1996), viii. See also David Christian's blurb on the back cover, which describes Spier's big history approach as an attempt at constructing a "'Grand Unifying Theory' of the past."
On the twentieth-century rejection of narrative by scientific historians see Hayden White, Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect (1999), 19; and Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vol. 1, trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (1984), ch. 4. Unlike their twentieth-century counterparts, nineteenth-century scientific historians were more likely than not to accept the narrativity of their work as an unfortunate but necessary evil. I examine this in the British context in The Science of History in Victorian Britain (2011).
On the specific issue of big history as a science see David Christian, "Bridging the Two Cultures: History, Big History, and Science," Historical Speaking (May-June 2005): 21-26.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, x, 138.
David Christian, "The History of Our World in 18 Minutes," http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqc9zX04DXs (posted April 11, 2011; accessed June 5, 2014). This last viewer count is from June 5, 2014.
With the financial help of Bill Gates, Christian has made enormous strides towards achieving this goal by establishing the Big History Project website at http://www.bighistoryproject.com, which provides a free online syllabus along with an impressive array of resources for both students and teachers interested in learning the story of big history.
David Christian, Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History (2004; repr., 2011), 4.
Christian, Maps of Time; and Christian, "The Case for 'Big History,'" 223-238.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity; and Cynthia Stokes Brown, Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present (2007).
Eric Chaisson, Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature (2001); and Chaisson, Epic of Evolution: Seven Ages of the Cosmos (2006).
Spier, The Structure of Big History. For collective learning see Christian, Maps of Time, esp. 146-7.
David Christian, "The Return of Universal History," History and Theory 49 (2010): 6-27.
To give a recent example see Sebastian Conrad, "Enlightenment in Global History: A Historiographical Critique," American Historical Review 117:4 (2012): 999-1027.
William H. McNeill penned the foreword to Christian's Maps of Time, while both Christian and Spier single out McNeill for special acknowledgement in their works. Spier even dedicates his Big History and the Future of Humanity to one "William Hardy McNeill." McNeill reviews Cynthia Stokes Brown's Big History in William H. McNeill, "Big History in Brief," History and Theory 47: 2 (May 2008): 302-304. On the relationship between big history and world and global history see Wolf Schäfer, "Big History, the Whole Story, and Nothing Less?" Canadian Journal of History 45 (2006): 317-328.
Dan Smail, "In the Grip of Sacred History," American Historical Review 110:5 (2005): 1337-1361; for chronogeographic grip, 1339; and for Neolithic Rubicon, 1357; and Christian, "The Case for 'Big History,'" 224-5; Christian, "The Return of Universal History," 9. See also Smail, On Deep History and the Brain (2008), 79 on the exporting of the Western Civ model to other countries.
David Christian, "The Evolutionary Epic and the Chronometric Revolution," in The Evolutionary Epic: Science's Story and Humanity's Response, ed. Cheryl Genet, Russell Genet, Brian Swimme, Linda Palmer, and Linda Gibler (2009), 91-99.
Christian, Maps of Time, 65.
Christian, "The Return of Universal History," 18.
William H. McNeill, "History and the Scientific Worldview," History and Theory 37:1 (1998): 1-13.
See Fred Spier, "Big History: The Emergence of a Novel Interdisciplinary Approach," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 33:2 (2008): 141-52, reference on 141-142.
Christian, "The Return of Universal History," 24.
Eric Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution (1980), xiii.
For big historians' use of Chaisson see, for instance, Christian, Maps of Time, 79-80; and Spier, "How Big History Works: Energy Flows and the Rise and Demise of Complexity," Social Evolution and History 4:1 (2005): 87-135.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, 9-16, reference on 9.
On Robert Chambers' "evolutionary epic" see the definitive James A. Secord, Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (2000).
I connect the Victorian evolutionary epic with Big History in "Progress and Purpose in the Evolutionary Epic; or, The Victorian Origins of Big History," Annual Meeting of the History of Science Society, Boston, Mass., November 2013.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, xiv.
Christian, Maps of Time, 3.
Claude Lévi-Strauss, "Overture to le Cru et le cuit," Yale Studies 36/37 (1966): 57.
Ibid., 56; see also Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (1978), 81-85, 103-104.
Christian, Maps of Time, 2.
Christian, "The Case for 'Big History,'" 227.
Gregory Schrempp, Ancient Mythology of Modern Science: A Mythologist Looks (Seriously) at Popular Science Writing (2012), 108. See also Mary Midgley, Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and Its Meaning (1992).
Martin Eger, "Hermeneutics and the New Epic of Science," in The Literature of Science: Perspectives on Popular Science Writing, ed. William Murdo McRae (1993), 186-212.
Wilson, On Human Nature (1978), 10.
Eger, "Hermeneutics and the New Epic of Science," 198.
Wilson interview quoted in Connie Barlow, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science (1997), 27-28.
On the general trends of this genre see Jon Turney, "Telling the Facts of Life: Cosmology and the Epic of Evolution," Science as Culture 10:2 (2001): 225-247.
Barlow, Green Space, Green Time, 9.
Swimme and Berry, The Universe Story, 1.
Wilson interview quoted in Barlow, Green Space, Green Time, 25. Wilson here is referring explicitly to the last paragraph of his Diversity of Life, new ed. (1999), 351.
Wilson interview quoted in Barlow, Green Space, Green Time, 27.
Swimme and Berry, The Universe Story, 241.
See, for instance, Russ Genet, Humanity: The Chimpanzees Who Would Be Ants (2007), previously published as The Chimpanzees Who Would Be Ants: The Evolutionary Epic of Humanity (1997); Loyal Rue, Everybody's Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution (2000); John Stewart, Evolution's Arrow: The Direction of Evolution and the Future of Humanity (2000); Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depths of Nature (1998); William B. Drees, Creation: From Nothing Till Now (2002); Norman K. Glendenning, Our Place in the Universe (2007); Brian May, Patrick Moore, and Chris Lintott, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe (2008); and Holmes Rolston III, Three Big Bangs: Matter-Energy, Life, Mind (2010).
Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack, The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos (2006; www.viewfromthecenter.com); and Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Journey of the Universe (2011; www.journeyoftheuniverse.org). See also the website www.epicofevolution.com.
Cheryl Genet, Russell Genet, Brian Swimme, Linda Palmer, and Linda Gibler eds., The Evolutionary Epic: Science's Story and Humanity's Response (2009).
David Christian, "Foreword: Celebrating the Birth of a New Creation Story," in The Evolutionary Epic, 11.
These are, of course, the key modes of emplotment Hayden White discerns in his analysis of nineteenth-century historians and philosophers of history. Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973), 7.
Wilson interview quoted in Barlow, Green Space, Green Time, 48.
Roland Barthes, "The Discourse of History," trans. Stephen Bann, in E. S. Shaffer ed., Comparative Criticism: A Yearbook, vol. 3 (1981), 3-22; Hayden White in Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse, 82; and White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (1987), 35-3.
See, for instance, Christian, Maps of Time, 11; Brown, Big History, xii; and Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, xiv.
Henry Thomas Buckle, History of Civilization in England, 2 vols 4th ed. (1857; repr., 1864), Vol. 1, 3.
Christian, Maps of Time, 2.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, xiii, emphasis mine.
Brown, Big History, xiii, emphasis mine.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, xi.
Christian, Maps of Time, 472. See Dipesh Chakrabarty, "The Climate of History: Four Theses," Critical Inquiry 35 (Winter 2009): 197-222, for a seemingly similar though ultimately more nuanced historiographical response to our current environmental crisis. Chakrabarty argues, much like big historians such as Christian and other authors of the evolutionary epic, that the writing of history must now take into account a much broader expanse of time and space given that humans have essentially become geological actors in the era of the Anthropocene. But unlike Christian, Chakrabarty argues that this new historical understanding that has been demanded by a shared sense of impending catastrophe cannot simply appeal to older forms of universal history while subsuming the particularities of the past. He proposes writing instead a "negative universal history," a much more self-critical narrative form that would attend to both the universal and the particular. The concept "negative universal history" is further explored in Antonio Y. Vaázquez-Arroyo, "Universal History Disavowed: On Critical Theory and Postcolonialism," Postcolonial Studies 11:4 (2008): 451-473.
Christian, "The History of Our World in 18 Minutes."
David Armitage, "What's the Big Idea? Intellectual History and the Longue Durée," History of European Ideas 38:4 (2012): 494.
Christian, "The History of Our World in 18 Minutes."
Schrempp, Ancient Mythology of Modern Science, 208.
See, for instance, Gene Kranz, Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 14 and Beyond (2000); Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Earth Shine (1969); Andrew Chaikin, A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts (1994); Hans Blumenberg, The Genesis of the Copernican World (1987). Even Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot (1994), which set out to counter exactly the pre-Copernican worldview on offer by the post-Earthrise science literature, could not help but offer a compensatory principle by making earth the center of a cosmic diaspora of space exploration. On this literature see Schrempp, Ancient Mythology of Modern Science, ch. 6.
Spier, Big History and the Future of Humanity, x.
Blumenberg, The Genesis of the Copernican World, 678.
Schrempp, Ancient Mythology of Modern Science, 125.
Stephen Jay Gould, Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin (1997), 7.
White, Tropics of Discourse, 111.