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Modernizing England's Past

Modernizing England's Past
English Historiography in the Age of Modernism, 1870–1970

$45.99 (P)

Part of The Wiles Lectures

  • Date Published: February 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521602662

$ 45.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • What came before 'postmodernism' in historical studies? By thinking through the assumptions, methods and cast of mind of English historians writing between about 1870 and 1970, this book reveals the intellectual world of the modernists and offers a full analysis of English historiography in this crucial period. Modernist historiography set itself the objective of going beyond the colourful narratives of 'whigs' and 'popularizers' in order to establish history as the queen of the humanities and as a rival to the sciences as a vehicle of knowledge. Professor Bentley does not follow those who deride modernism as 'positivist' or 'empiricist' but instead shows how it set in train brilliant new styles of investigation that transformed how historians understood the English past. But he shows how these strengths were eventually outweighed by inherent confusions and misapprehensions that threatened to kill the very subject that the modernists had intended to sustain.

    • The first full account of English historiography from 1870-1970
    • The first study to define modernism as a distinctive approach to historical studies
    • Essential reading for students studying historical theory and method and for anyone interested in our changing understanding of the English past
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This study is full of valuable insights and information; it provides a personal view of the strengths and weaknesses of the major English historians of their own country for more than a century." --Peter Stansky, Stanford University: Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521602662
    • length: 254 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 161 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prelude: after the Whigs
    Part I. The Whig Legacy:
    1. Constitution and nation
    2. Church and state
    3. Empire and war
    4. Ghosts and intimations
    Part II. Modernist Investments:
    5. New historians, new histories
    6. The new eighteenth century
    7. Ideological environments
    8. Modernist method
    Coda: after the modernists.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Modern Britain
  • Author

    Michael Bentley, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Michael Bentley is Professor of Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is the editor of the Routledge Companion to Historiography (2002) and the author of Modern Historiography: An Introduction (1999).

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