David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is an impressive scholarly accomplishment that matches a dauntingly large subject matter with a vast vault of personal knowledge. At 474 pages and 13 chapters covering more than 3000 years, it is thorough without being exhaustive.
From the late 1960s, the methods and claims of ‘conceptual history’ – although perhaps not Begriffsgeschichte – have fruitfully informed the scholarship of historians working on early-modern British and ‘Anglo-world’ political thought .
‘The Sitwells belong to the history of publicity rather than of poetry’, famously pronounced F. R. Leavis in New Bearings in English Poetry (1932).
Rachel Beer first caught my attention some 20 years ago when I was trawling through Who Was Who looking for journalists. She was unusual because she was the editor of The Sunday Times in the 1890s, when no other national newspaper had a woman editor. She was also deeply conscious of her background, proud of being a member of the wealthy and important Jewish family of Sassoon.
The work of Mary Carruthers is well known to students of medieval culture. Her Book of Memory charted discussions of memory from antiquity to the late Middle Ages, treading in the footsteps of Frances Yates in arguing that memory was not just another concept in the minds of medieval writers, but a conceptual motor for the organisation and motivation of thought.
Demons or cunning priests?
‘The Pythia at Delphi, sitting with her petticoats bunched up and her arse on the Tripod, received her inspiration from below’. Denis Diderot
In his introduction, Matthew Lundin declares that it ‘would perhaps only be slightly hyperbolic to proclaim Hermann Weinsberg the Samuel Pepys of sixteenth-century Germany’ (p. 3). This proclamation does not do full justice to the scope of Lundin’s work.
The period of medieval intellectual history covered by this book, primarily the 12th and 13th centuries, is one that has received considerable attention for well over a century. The main question, then, is what does Ian Wei bring to this subject that has not been done before, or how has he reshaped it? The answer is he has done much in both respects.
In recent years, historians have begun to explore the political experiences of Victorian women outside the well-trodden suffrage narrative. As a consequence, we have a far greater understanding of how certain women were able to negotiate, exploit and overcome the legal and ideological constraints society placed upon them.
Aaron Lecklider, who teaches American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, proposes to stand the last century of American intellectual life on its head, or at least on its side.