Core paper: Approaches to medieval historiography

(Convenor: Professor Christopher Wickham)

This paper is designed as an introduction to the ways historians have discussed the middle ages since 1945. It focusses on the methods historians use and the issues they think are most important; and on how these have changed in cutting-edge history-writing in the last fifty years. The time frame will cover writing on the whole of the middle ages, and into the sixteenth century in some cases; the focus in every case will, however, be on the historians, not the period those historians were or are studying. Historians tend not to be very explicit about their theoretical approaches, for both good and bad reasons, so this seminar concentrates for the most part on the empirical work of leading historians; what their underlying assumptions are, and the success of their methods, will be discussed and critiqued in the seminar sessions. Topics discussed will include the Annales school, British Marxist historiography, prosopography, historical anthropology, cultural and gender history, and the linguistic turn.

Syllabus and Reading Lists