Plot and History

I want to talk about one mistake I think it is possible to make about the kinds of ‘creative’ approaches to writing history is that the #storypast group have discussed, and which will hopefully be addressed by the ‘Creative Histories’ event in Bristol in July 2017. This error is to think that talk of history […]

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Making Time for Ideas

Do academic researchers spend enough time thinking? I know that – at least in the romance we spin of what we should be doing – thinking is perhaps priority number one, up there somewhere with teaching, writing, and discussing. I also know from my own experience that life as an academic leaves little luxury. Thinking – […]

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Style Notes: Louis Chevalier

I remember first reading – and not understanding – Louis Chevalier’s Classes laborieuses et classes dangereuses as an undergraduate. The book is a classic, and Chevalier’s influence on later historians of crime and criminality is obvious. Foucault, for instance, is full of echoes of Chevalier’s ideas. But it’s also a very hard book to categorise. Not really a […]

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The Prophets’ Poison

Who saw the US election result coming? Not many before it happened. A great many once it had. When I woke up and saw the result, I was angry, not simply at the result, not simply at the voters who elected Trump, but at the process that now sets in as Trump’s victory becomes part […]

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To the Historians of the Future

So I did something stupid yesterday. I suggested to a colleague that for a class on ‘writing style’ we should set students a quick exercise: write the start of a history of the 2016 US Election from the point of view of 2026, looking back. Why was this stupid? Well the class evolved into an impassioned […]

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Most Wanted

Have you seen this man? Eugène Vintras was – depending on who you believe – a fraudster or a prophet, and an inspiration for many of the heterodox religious movements of the fin-de-siècle and twentieth century. He was important enough to merit a walk-on part in Huysman’s La-bas (1891) and was also mentioned by Maurice Barrès. And […]

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