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The Middle Ages in the Modern WorldTwenty-first century perspectives$
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Bettina Bildhauer and Chris Jones

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266144

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.001.0001

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Writing the Nation: Historians and National Identities from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

Writing the Nation: Historians and National Identities from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries

Chapter:
(p.73) 3 Writing the Nation: Historians and National Identities from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries1
Source:
The Middle Ages in the Modern World
Author(s):

Patrick Geary

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197266144.003.0004

Many nineteenth-century national historians, such as Alexandre Herculano, Cesare Balbo, François Guizot, Jules Michelet and Thomas Babington Macaulay, self-consciously created the deep past of their respective nations for receptive and enthusiastic national audiences. Influenced by the novels of Walter Scott, they wrote history as biography of the nation, an account of how that nation, composed of the best of all of its social strata, had come into existence. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, novelistic and professional approaches to history bifurcated, with the former reducing the scope of historical writing to investigations of highly specialised topics that have little resonance outside of academe and with a wider public. This chapter explores alternative ways for professional historians to engage with their societies and asks about the legacy of contemporary historical writing.

Keywords:   Alexandre Herculano, Cesare Balbo, François Guizot, Jules Michelet, Thomas Babington Macaulay, historiography, national history, Walter Scott

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