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In Room 145 of the Ceramics Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the top of case 50, you can see an ‘architectural fragment’, which, according to its label, ‘once ornamented a palace in Yuanmingyuan or “garden of perfect clarity”’.
In what was presumably a formative period for Stefan Collini (born in 1947) in the late 1960s, Perry Anderson published a powerful diatribe against English letters for its imperviousness to the great sweep of 20th-century social thought from Marx through Weber, Durkheim and Pareto onwards.(1) Historians were indentured to facts and sources and an impossible ideal of ac
The disciplinary development of the ‘human sciences’ has attracted extensive scholarly discussion in the last three or four decades.
A. C. Grayling's latest book claims that the modern mind emerged from a series of events which took place, and ideas which materialised, in the 17th century. The Age of Genius argues that the forces of democracy, secularism, enlightenment and science triumphed at this time over divine-right monarchy, religious faith, ignorance and tradition.
So often, intellectual history is about inheritances. Historians study what is passed down from one age to the next. This has often led to the problem that we tend to focus on what is more familiar, engaging, or at least recognisable, and leads us to ask: why study that which has not left an inheritance?
Starting in around 1530, Craig Muldrew argues in this important, phenomenally good book, the English economy developed rapidly. Population growth fed commercialization; markets developed and embedded; people did not just grow and make things, they bought and sold, bargained and trucked. Yet there were few actual coins.
Sonya Rose’s initial interest in national identity was sparked by the patriotic fervor that burst forth following the declaration of the first Iraq War (1990–1). ‘I wondered at how easily patriotic sentiment and the sense of belonging to a nation under threat – even if that threat was so far away – could be aroused’ (p. 285).
Hardly had the fighting petered out on the Somme in November 1916 than one American reviewer, W. S. Rusk, was warning scholars that much writing about the Great War would be lost to the ‘winnowing flail of time’.(1)
Mercantilism, Lars Magnusson believes, was at its core ‘a series of discussions that tried to grapple with a rapid developing world of commerce and the effects it had on polities and communities in Europe during the early modern period’ (p. 48).
This is a book about two well-known dynastic verse histories commissioned by Henry II, the Roman de Rou by Wace and the Chronique des ducs de Normandie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure.