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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Style Notes (II): Adam Thorpe

Crafting metaphors is dangerous for historians. They may enrich prose, illustrating and amplifying meaning, making ideas seem real and concrete, but when a historian develops and grows a metaphor, they are at risk of giving life to a distortion. Clarification and illustration fade into simplification and emplotment. The metaphors we use rarely come to us ready […]

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Style Notes: Robert Darnton

One thing that I think blogging can usefully do that historians don’t often do in other, more formal writing spaces is think about the basics of writing style in history. It’s actually the kind of thing that many of us – I suspect – do all the time in the pub, over coffee, or even […]

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