The book may signal a shift whereby historians are choosing not to focus simply on men, women, or gender issues as such but to build gender into all considerations of power, politics, and social structure. This perhaps represents a new and welcome development of the historiography inaugurated by the women's history of the s. Rather less successful are the attempts to engage with the impact of postmodernism and the linguistic turn.
The student reader within me found it difficult to work out what the arguments derived from critical theory were really about or indeed to find entries on them in the index, although "Post-Structuralism" is there. Given that space is in short supply, the authors are not able to stand back and explain in sufficient detail the theoretical assumptions behind a lot of the work.
There are almost as many references to Michel Foucault as there are to Marxism despite very little detailed discussion of either. One of the more successful essays in this vein is Simon Gunn's treatment of urbanization, which examines the field of urban history since H. Dyos and finds room for discussions of governmentality, modernity, and the flaneur. It should be said that social class remains an important category in the book despite the debates that have taken place since the s.
Martin Hewitt provides an excellent discussion of the subject, which sensibly concludes that, for all the problems of class analysis, it is very difficult to write about the nineteenth century without reference to it. I was troubled by the treatment of high politics in the book.
Michael Turner is given the unenviable task of compressing the whole trajectory of parliamentary history into two chapters on "Political Leadership and Political Parties" although parliamentary reform receives a separate chapter by Michael S. This means that none of the topics within get much treatment at all. The student reader within me, who is often required by both university and A Level syllabi to write essays on Robert Peel, William Gladstone, Benjamin Disraeli, and Joseph Chamberlain, will find the discussions simply too brief to be useful.
This was one moment where I felt the Companion was not lining up with how the nineteenth century is still taught at least in some quarters. The book will not assist readers interested in questions of statesmanship.
A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain / Edition 1
The editor claims that the "momentum behind the 'high politics' school has been lost in recent years" p. I found it intriguing that the book has so little to say about Jeremy Bentham just four scattered references despite two very fine discussions of intellectual history by Gregory Claeys and Noel Thompson. Bentham is this book's dog that did not bark in the night.
The older historiography shaped originally by Albert Venn Dicey in which Utilitarianism reshaped state and society is here replaced by a far more complex account as we discover in Philip Harling's account of the British state although he quite properly finds room for Bentham and Edwin Chadwick along the way.
Where the book does come into its own is in its commitment to a genuine four-nations history of Britain although this is not by any means incorporated into all the articles. There are very strong assessments of the historiographies of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales by respectively Christine Kinealy, E. McFarland, and Matthew Cragoe. Chris Williams brings the book to a conclusion with a strong article on British identities, which discusses the issue of "Englishness" but I did wonder where the article on England itself was.
I suspect that we will have to wait for another edition. It is also worth noting that there is no separate article on race although it comes into a number of articles. This was again one of the rare moments where I felt the book was out of step with the historiography as it currently exists.
All collections like this have to be selective and it is churlish to focus on what is not here given that the editor has served up such a rich menu. The purpose of the book is to pay tribute to the intellectual wealth of historians of the nineteenth century. My student reader comes away with a real understanding of the multiple levels through which the nineteenth century needs to be understood and a feeling that all history is about debate.
Citation: Rohan McWilliam. Review of Williams, Chris, ed. H-Albion, H-Net Reviews. January, For any other proposed use, contact the Reviews editorial staff at hbooks mail.
A Companion to Nineteenth‐Century Britain | Wiley Online Books
Add a Comment. Michigan State University Department of History. Shop Textbooks. Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Temporarily Out of Stock Online Please check back later for updated availability. Overview A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain presents 33 essays by expert scholars on all the major aspects of the political, social, economic and cultural history of Britain during the late Georgian and Victorian eras.
Britain and the World Economy 17 Anthony Howe 2. Davis 3. Britain and Empire 53 Douglas M.
Read A Companion to 19th Century Britain Blackwell Companions to British History Ebook pdf
Peers 4. The Armed Forces 79 Edward M. Kuhn 6.
The State Philip Harling 7. Turner 8. Turner 9. Parliamentary Reform and the Electorate Michael S. Smith Politics and Gender Sarah Richardson Agriculture and Rural Society Michael Winstanley Industry and Transport William J. Ashworth Urbanization Simon Gunn Migration and Settlement Ian Whyte Class and the Classes Martin Hewitt Religion Mark A.
Literacy, Learning and Education Philip Gardner