Pasts and presents: British historical culture, c. 1600-1900 (HIC3001)

30 credits

What did “historical truth” mean to people in the past? Who was considered an “historian” before the formation of the modern academic community? How does the historical imagination – whether “public” or “scholarly” - change over time and why? And when did “popular” history really begin? This module addresses these questions by exploring the many ways that people in the past related to the past in Britain from c. 1600 to 1900.

We will analyse how historical production was influenced by a variety of intellectual and cultural currents in religion, philosophy, art, literature, architecture, and political ideas. We will consider classical inheritances, as well as the contemporary concerns that influenced historical production in the period. By doing so, we will map the history of history onto the larger story of intellectual history and the history of ideas, broadly understood, during the period.