The use of the past in previous eras has become a growth area of historical enquiry in recent times, exemplified by the enormous Cambridge University project, ‘Past Versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress’, on the Victorians’ relationship to the past.
To historians, the intrinsic value of history is self-evident. However, the study of history as an intellectual activity extends beyond the careful reconstruction and critical analysis of the past. For the past seeps into the present: it shapes the identities, perceptions, and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
‘We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong’: Gregory Bateson’s observation summarizes what motivates Keith Jenkins’s latest book.(1) In this collection of essays written and published over the last 15 years (including not only a foreword by Hayden White and an afterword by Alun Munslow, but also responses from Perez Zagorin and Michael C.
Edward Hallett Carr's contribution to the study of Soviet history is widely regarded as highly distinguished. In all probability very few would argue against this assessment of his multi-volume history of Soviet Russia. For the majority of historians he pretty much got the story straight.
Russell, Conrad Sebastian Robert, Fifth Earl Russell (1937–2004)
This edited collection of essays, published to mark the 20th anniversary of the journal Gender and History, is a welcome and timely reminder of the way in which gender and women’s history has successfully challenged historical orthodoxies, has been used to scrutinize and enrich established timeframes for the past and has vividly exposed the way in which female agency has too often been
‘Structure’ is still an unfashionable word in history. Since the late 1980s, ‘post-structuralism’ (or, more commonly, its elastic cousin postmodernism) has seemed to dominate much historical writing and methodology. The ‘linguistic turn’ has sharpened historians’ attention to the power of language.
The former Master of Peterhouse, Herbert Butterfield, has become something of a cottage industry over the past ten years or so, with a number of monographs resurrecting a career that had previously fallen into neglect.
Over the past few decades we have been invited to rethink history, pursue it, practise it, defend it, refigure it, and generally consider what it is, what it’s for, and whether we really need to bother with it. Now, just as we think it must all be done and dusted, if not done to death, we are offered more advice on ‘doing’ it.
In History in the Discursive Condition (2011) – a follow up to her (for me) ground-breaking Realism and Consensus (1), and Sequel to History: Postmodernism and the Crisis of Representational Time (2) – Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth, a student of interdisciplinary cultural history and theory, explores the practical implicat