Pasha and his historic harem
Edward A. Freeman, Edith Thompson and the gendered personae of late-Victorian historians
in How to be a historian
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This chapter discusses the unaddressed question of historians’ gendered personae. Because gender difference structured historians’ world views, it is necessary to analyse the bond between gender and scholarly personae. The chapter does this by taking two late-Victorian British historians, Edward Freeman and Edith Thompson, as examples and explores how gendered personae were constructed and maintained and how women adjusted to and possibly challenged the restrictions placed on them. Although women were not entirely excluded from history writing, they were not invited to produce new historical knowledge. Instead, they were assigned the task of popularizing the studies men had produced. Consequently, women were expected to emulate a persona that was specific to their gender and corresponded with the type of history they were required to produce. The chapter suggests that the boundaries between various practices and styles of history writing were fluid. Some women did not settle for popularizing, but conducted independent research and adopted the persona of a serious historian, a manifestly masculine position even if men considered such unconventional conduct as inappropriate. Indeed, just as gender was an essential organizing concept in Victorian society, it was implicit in the personae historians promoted.

Editor: Herman Paul


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