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Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain
  • Edited by Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley
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Book description

Historicism and the Human Sciences in Victorian Britain explores the rise and nature of historicist thinking about such varied topics as life, race, character, literature, language, economics, empire, and law. The contributors show that the Victorians typically understood life and society as developing historically in a way that made history central to their intellectual inquiries and their public culture. Although their historicist ideas drew on some Enlightenment themes, they drew at least as much on organic ideas and metaphors in ways that lent them a developmental character. This developmental historicism flourished alongside evolutionary motifs and romantic ideas of the self. The human sciences were approached through narratives, and often narratives of reason and progress. Life, individuals, society, government, and literature all unfolded gradually in accord with underlying principles, such as those of rationality, nationhood, and liberty. This book will appeal to those interested in Victorian Britain, historiography, and intellectual history.

Reviews

'Bevir’s aim for the book is an important and a timely one. … Bevir and the individual essayists are to be thanked for having brought the several strands of nineteenth-century British historicism into relationship with the wider debates they did so much to reconfigure.'

Joshua Bennett Source: The English Historical Review

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