New attitudes towards history in nineteenth-century Britain saw a rejection of romantic, literary techniques in favour of a professionalized, scientific methodology. The development of history as a scientific discipline was undertaken by several key historians of the Victorian period, influenced by German scientific history and British natural philosophy. This study examines parallels between the professionalization of both history and science at the time, which have previously been overlooked.
Hesketh challenges accepted notions of a single scientific approach to history. Instead, he draws on a variety of sources—monographs, lectures, correspondence—from eminent Victorian historians to uncover numerous competing discourses.
Artfully conceived and highly readable.
Does an excellent job of giving us both the petty feuds and the principles behind them.
Hesketh pays welcome attention to the intellectual and religious currents that shaped Victorian historians' lives and, by extension, their methods.
It is certainly useful to have a study of an important conceptual debate that goes into the political wings so thoroughly.
This book deserves much credit for making light of little-known and complex debates, and for demonstrating how great a variety of methodological standpoints is hidden behind the 'Whig' political label under which most of the historians it studies have usually been grouped.
This colorful and conflicted history of the battle between the art of history and the science of history is a welcome addition to the growing literature on nineteenth-century science and culture.
Ian Hesketh is an Australia Research Council Future Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland. He is the author of Of Apes and Ancestors: Evolution, Christianity, and the Oxford Debate, The Science of History in Victorian Britain, and, most recently, Victorian Jesus: J. R. Seeley, Religion, and the Cultural Significance of Anonymity.learn more