Hayden White (born July 12, 1928, Martin, Tennessee) is a historian in the tradition of literary criticism, perhaps most famous for his work Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (1973). He has argued that historical writing mirrors literary writing in many ways, sharing the strong reliance on narrative for meaning, therefore ruling out the possibility for objective or truly scientific history. White has also argued, however, that history is most successful when it embraces this "narrativity", since it is what allows history to be meaningful. He is currently professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, having recently retired from the position of Professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.
White received his B.A. from Wayne State University in 1951 and his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan (1952 and 1955, respectively). While an undergraduate at Wayne State, White studied history under William J. Bossenbrook.
Lawsuit against the LAPD
White figured prominently in a landmark California Supreme Court case regarding covert intelligence gathering on college campuses by police officers in the Los Angeles Police Department. White v. Davis, 13 Cal.3d 757 (1975). In 1972, while a professor of history at UCLA and acting as sole plaintiff, White brought suit against Chief of Police Edward M. Davis, alleging the illegal expenditure of public funds in connection with covert intelligence gathering by police at UCLA. The covert activities included police officers registering as students, taking notes of discussions occurring in classes, and making police reports on these discussions. White v. Davis, at 762. The Supreme Court found for White in a unanimous decision. This case set the standard that determines the limits of legal police surveillance of political activity in California; police cannot engage in such surveillance in the absence of reasonable suspicion of a crime ("Lockyer Manual").
- The Fiction of Narrative: Essays on History, Literature, and Theory, 1957-2007. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2010. Ed. Robert Doran
- Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999.
- "Historiography and Historiophoty", The American Historical Review, Vol. 93, No. 5 (Dec., 1988), pp. 1193-1199.
- The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1987.
- "Historical Pluralism", Critical Inquiry, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Spring, 1986), pp. 480-493.
- "The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory", History and Theory, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Feb., 1984), pp. 1-33.
- "The Politics of Historical Interpretation: Discipline and De-Sublimation", Critical Inquiry, Vol. 9, No. 1, The Politics of Interpretation (Sep., 1982), pp. 113-137.
- as editor (1982) with Margaret BroseRepresenting Kenneth Burke. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality", Critical Inquiry, Vol. 7, No. 1, On Narrative (Autumn, 1980), pp. 5-27.
- Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1978.
- "Interpretation in History", New Literary History, Vol. 4, No. 2, On Interpretation: II (Winter, 1973), pp. 281-314.
- "Foucault Decoded: Notes from Underground", History and Theory, Vol. 12, No. 1 (1973), pp. 23-54.
- Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1973.
- The Greco-Roman Tradition. New York: Harper & Row. 1973.
- as co-author (1970) with Willson Coates, The Ordeal of Liberal Humanism: An Intellectual History of Western Europe, vol. II: Since the French Revolution. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.
- as co-editor (1969) with Giorgio Tagliacozzo, Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
- as editor The Uses of History: Essays in Intellectual and Social History. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. 1968.
- "The burden of history", History and Theory, Vol. 5, No. 2 (1966), pp. 111-134.
- as co-author (1966) with Willson Coates and J. Salwin Schapiro, The Emergence of Liberal Humanism. An Intellectual History of Western Europe, vol. I: From the Italian Renaissance to the French Revolution. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.
- Philosophy of History After Hayden White, London: Bloomsbury, 2013. Edited by Robert Doran. ISBN 9781441108210
- Re-Figuring Hayden White, Edited by Frank Ankersmit, Ewa Domanska, and Hans Kellner. ISBN 978-0-8047-6003-4
- Robert Doran. "The Work of Hayden White I: Mimesis, Figuration, and the Writing of History", The SAGE Handbook of Historical Theory, ed. Nancy Partner and Sarah Foot (London: Sage Publications, 2013): 106-118.
- Oliver Daddow. "Exploding history: Hayden White on disciplinization", Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice, 1470-1154, Volume 12, Issue 1, 2008, Pages 41–58.
- Patrick Finney. "Hayden White and the Tragedy of International History", Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association's 49th Annual Convention; San Francisco, CA, USA, Mar 26, 2008.
- "Hayden White Talks Trash", Interview by Frederick Aldama, Issue #55, May 2001.
- Paul Hansom, Twentieth-century American cultural theorists, Gale Group, 2001, p. 381.
- Hayden White, "Interpretation in History," New Literary History, 4 (Winter, 1973), pp. 281-314.
- Hayden White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," Critical Inquiry, No. 1, (Autumn, 1980), pp. 5-27.
- Jones, William B. (2003). Robert Louis Stevenson reconsidered: new critical perspectives. McFarland. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7864-1399-7. Retrieved 8 February 2012.