Explanatory paradigms: an introduction to historical theory

This course aims to provide a critical introduction to some of the most influential frameworks of explanation in historical work today.   Explanatory Paradigms will explore one explanatory approach each week in depth through a combination of a lecture and seminar discussion based on the students’ own reading.

Course Details

The rationale for this course is to provide an outline of some of the main debates around historical usage of key concepts such as class, gender, race, power, space, memory, narrative and archive since the 1960s. It will, in other words, provide a kind of pre-history of our contemporary uses of such terms and enable students to see how they developed out of arguments and historical interpretation. At the same time, it will introduce students to a series of seminal texts. So this course will be a mapping of a conceptual terrain and an intellectual journey.


There is no formal assessment for this course, but students are recommended to keep a study journal from week to week, and to use it as the basis of their contribution to the discussion in the last two weeks. Students who would like written feedback from a tutor are invited to submit their reflections on how the theories covered in the course have affected their work (1000 words max.)

The course is open to postgraduates and all who are interested in exploring historical theory.

Date: TBC

Fee: TBC