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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2022
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Book description

This interdisciplinary volume explores the relationship between history and a range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences: economics, political science, political theory, international relations, sociology, philosophy, law, literature and anthropology. The relevance of historical approaches within these disciplines has shifted over the centuries. Many of them, like law and economics, originally depended on self-consciously historical procedures. These included the marshalling of evidence from past experience, philological techniques and source criticism. Between the late nineteenth and the middle of the twentieth century, the influence of new methods of research, many indebted to models favoured by the natural sciences, such as statistical, analytical or empirical approaches, secured an expanding intellectual authority while the hegemony of historical methods declined in relative terms. In the aftermath of this change, the essays collected in History in the Humanities and Social Sciences reflect from a variety of angles on the relevance of historical concerns to representative disciplines as they are configured today.


‘… a well-crafted, serious, and important set of contributions by sixteen academics to our knowledge of how history is valued … The editors’ independent eminence brings intellectual authority to the enterprise, while the book’s articles and issues are significant. … this volume demonstrates the importance of investing history more fully and genuinely in the work of the academy, now seriously beleaguered as its common frames of reference, justification, and political support disintegrate.’

John R. Wallach Source: Society

‘With sophistication and rigour, Bourke and Skinner’s volume affirmatively answers the question of whether historical consciousness can add to the work of the humanities and social sciences. It brings a refreshing contemporaneity to that discussion. … [It is] an exceptional resource for those who though committed to the historicist approach, in one form or another, find themselves pressed to offer disciplinary justification … informative, engaging, and provocative yet free of complacency. Its editors have put together a collection which, I expect, will resonate with a generation or more of scholars committed to this invaluable tradition.’

Brian O’Connor Source: Society

‘Reading it cover to cover is … instructive, and suggests an overarching story about the evolution of the historical discipline itself over the past half century. … the volume is itself, in part, some-thing of a first-order intellectual history of academic disciplinarity across the twentieth century, historicizing the fields of intellectual endeavor that have - to varying degrees at different times - availed themselves of historical method … the book captures the profound importance of historical data and historical interpretive techniques to the scholarly enterprise of the modern university.'

Jeffrey Collins Source: Society

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