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An introduction

History in the historiographical sense is made by us, not by people in the past, nor by the record of their actions. This book facilitates the critical reading of works of history. It looks at the historical profession, its predilections and traditions. The Whig interpretation of history has been chosen to illustrate the relationship between historiography and a prevalent culture because of its central role in the period when the historical profession began to establish itself in England and because of its continuing popular and political influence. The book acts as a guide to reading historiographical texts, looking at the relationship between 'facts' and 'theories', and at 'meta-narrative' and causation. The book examines the issues of planning and structuring in the process of writing an essay. It offers a guide to the writing of academic history at undergraduate level and to the skills involved, and contrasts this with the non-academic uses of history. The book talks about some gender historians who viewed gender identities as expressions of social change within a wider society. It explores the unique fascination that the Nazis has exercised on both academic and popular historiography, along with the allied study of the Holocaust. The book also explores the works of Marxist historians associated with the Communist Party Historians' Group and considers the earlier approaches to cultural history, as influences on the Group, and the development of newer theoretical positions that developed both out of and in opposition to Marxism. The developments in British historiography are discussed.

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Roger Spalding and Christopher Parker

highly critical of this Whig propensity for anachronism and for telling the national story in a liberal, progressive light. They felt that the Whigs had allowed Victorian preconceptions to colour their archival findings, and were determined to erase such an overarching theme from their detailed studies. The coup de grâce to the reputation of the Whigs in academia was delivered, rather late in the day, in Herbert Butterfield’s The Whig Interpretation of History (1931), which made great play with their bias and anachronisms. 32 Butterfield’s attack was much

in Historiography
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History and historiography
Roger Spalding and Christopher Parker

issues raised by these points, but historians are down-to-earth people and we tend to like concrete instances rather than general theory, so we will endeavour to work mainly through examples. In Chapter 2 we look at the historical profession, its predilections and traditions; the Whig interpretation of history has been chosen to illustrate the relationship between historiography and a prevalent culture because of its central role in the periodwhen the historical profession began to establish itself in England and because of its continuing popular and political

in Historiography
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Penelope Lively’s Moon Tiger
Huw Marsh

, and Gilmour and Schwarz, End of Empire and the English Novel.indd 155 18/07/2011 11:14:26 156 en d of e m pi r e a n d t he engl i sh nov el si nce 1945 are suitably appalled. … ‘Because that is how you can understand why England became a great nation.’ Well done, Miss Lavenham. I’m sure you never heard of the Whig interpretation of history, and wouldn’t have known what it meant, but breeding will out.23 This is the type of historiographic critique outlined by Hutcheon, but it is a critique which draws upon a very specific context. Claudia’s irony undercuts

in End of empire and the English novel since 1945
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Remapping early modern literature
Matthew C. Augustine

and constitutionalism – what Herbert Butterfield identified as ‘the Whig interpretation of history’ 19 – at the centre of English historical writing for at least a century to come. Macaulay’s judgements of cultural phenomena were equally shaped by his Whig stance, and received and repeated with equal conviction. Indeed, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that Macaulay’s picture of seventeenth-century literature and culture persisted more or less intact until the 1960s, and continues to influence our thinking. Macaulay hails 1660 as a new

in Aesthetics of contingency
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The evolution of a subject
Nicholas Canny

) on American historical writing see R. Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians, Turner, Beard and Parrington (New York: Cape, 1968). 5 The term ‘Whig history’ was popularized in H. Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (Cambridge: Bell, 1931) where the author criticized the tendency of some nineteenth-century British authors, and some of his contemporaries, to attribute the power and influence that Britain enjoyed in the nineteenth century to constitutional choices made by English people in earlier centuries

in The TransAtlantic reconsidered
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Arthur Aughey

the truth (at best) of a complex reality (Taylor 1976: 21–2). Whig incorporating Tory, however, would be a more accurate description of Butterfield’s thesis since his message was that ‘the real Tory alternative to the organisation of English history on the basis of the growth of liberty’ – the story of imperial expansion – was an alternative no more by the middle of the twentieth century. It had been swallowed into the Whig system (Butterfield 1944: 81–2). Butterfield, whose reputation had been made on the basis of his criticism of the Whig interpretation of history

in The politics of Englishness
Open Access (free)
Peter Calvert

call the Gladstonian view, is rooted in the so-called ‘Whig view of history’ as ‘the story of our liberty’, and continues to underlie the story of what Huntington (1991) was later to call the ‘First Wave’ democracies. According to this view, all Englishmen [sic] were beneficiaries of the centuries-long evolution of constitutional liberties, achieved for the most part by gradualist methods which respected the past. Though usually known as the ‘Whig interpretation of history’ it was in fact bipartisan and effectively reinforced the legitimacy of the country’s political

in Democratization through the looking-glass
Open Access (free)
Paul de Rapin de Thoyras’s Histoire
Ben Dew

chapter.5 In the thirty years following its publication, Rapin’s Histoire received three separate English translations,6 sold around 18,000 copies,7 and spawned a range of derivative texts.8 It also contained, as Hugh Trevor-Roper has argued, ‘the classic exposition of the Whig – the “old Whig” – interpretation of history’.9 From this perspective, England’s past was the story of the ongoing survival of the nation’s Saxon constitution in the face of a series of threats from innovating monarchs and their proto-Tory supporters. Such an account, TrevorRoper noted, was

in Commerce, finance and statecraft
Vicky Randall

Great Reform Act (1832), Burkean ideas resulted in a self-congratulatory ‘Whiggism’ in which the guarantee of English liberty was no longer the ancient constitution but the ability of modern men to make necessary political changes. As described by Herbert Butterfield in his classic essay on The Whig Interpretation of History (1931), this approach was less a matter of political affiliation than the specific mindset of writers who ‘organized [their] scheme of history from the point of view of [their] own day’. 28 In emphasising the significance and achievements of

in History, empire, and Islam