For many of us, the ongoing carnage in Syria is a self-evident humanitarian crisis. We do not need to be convinced that the children drowning at sea, the women and men, young and old, begging for entry into any country that will accept them are worthy of our help.
The disciplinary development of the ‘human sciences’ has attracted extensive scholarly discussion in the last three or four decades.
In the last year several books appeared focused on the United States in the world that seek to combine a study of intellectual history, popular culture and politics in a long breath of the 19th century.
How do you take your liberalism? Passionately? Rationally? Passionate moral energy had been the hallmark of the Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone’s public oratory and parliamentary addresses.
This volume arrives with high praise. The book ‘[d]eserves to become another classic’, opines Peter Burke at the top of the front cover. It ‘[c]ompletely overhauls our view’, observes Ronald Hutton somewhat further down. The work itself is not shy of ambition either. Both the title—The Decline of Magic—and the subtitle—Britain in the Enlightenment—promise sweeping panoramas.
Tamson Pietsch is a lecturer in Imperial and Colonial History at Brunel University, London. Her own academic pathway from Australia to Oxford mirrors that of her predecessors who feature in this study of the ‘Empire of Scholars’. We need to know more, she argues, about who made knowledge in the Empire and the social and intellectual context which informed that knowledge.