Uses of History

The Uses of History in Early Modern England

Edited by:Paulina Kewes
Format:450 pages, 6 3/4 x 10 inches, 7 b/w illustrations, cloth
Release Date:2006-11-15

Price: $39.95

About this Book

The essays in this collection investigate the ways in which the past was exploited to meet the concerns of the present in early modern England. The understanding of the past in this period was characterized by a deepening and more fully articulated conception of time and history, with its roots in impassioned religious and political controversies. The discourses that arose from this dialogue informed and drew together a daunting range of genres and activities: prose accounts, polemical tracts, poems, plays, romances, secret histories, novels. Although many of these genres are no longer recognized as history, early modern writers and readers treated them as such. In assessing the uses of the past, therefore, these essays consider “literary” and “factual” writings side by side, avoiding traditional chronological and disciplinary divisions and the artificial separation of secular from ecclesiastical history. Cumulatively, they supply the context and provide a vast array of evidence for the way in which the deployment of history for political, religious, moral, aesthetic, or commercial purposes shifted between the mid-sixteenth century and the late eighteenth.



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About the Author
Paulina Kewes is a fellow and tutor in English literature at Jesus College, Oxford, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her publications include Authorship and Appropriation: Writing for the Stage in England, 1660–1710 (1998), and a number of articles on Renaissance, Restoration, and eighteenth-century drama and politics. She has also edited a volume of essays, Plagiarism in Early Modern England (2003), and is completing a book on the staging of history in Elizabethan England. F. J. Levy is an emeritus professor of history, University of Washington.



Ian W. Archer, Eve Tavor Bannet, David Cressy, Richard Dutton, Martin Dzelzainis, Felicity Heal, Christopher Highley, John N. King, Mark Knights, Karen O’Brien, Paul Seaward, John Spurr, Andrew Starkie, Arthur H. Williamson, David Womersley, Daniel R. Woolf, and Blair Worden


Praise for The Uses of History in Early Modern England:

“A superb group of contributors provide by far the best survey ever produced of the uses of the past in early modern England. The essays give the history of both religion and politics their proper place, and essays on drama, poetry, and the novel put historical writing in the context of other literary activities. The volume, which covers the whole period 1500 to 1700 and beyond, also serves as an invaluable guide to the current state of the literature on the subject. Yet the whole is much more than the sum of its parts: a provocation to thought, an invitation to new research, it will prove a landmark volume, one that everyone working on the early modern period will want to own and keep close to hand.”
—David Wootton, Anniversary Professor of History, University of York


"Excellent. . . . Well written. . . . Overall, the volume embodies exacting standards of scholarship. . . . A rich collection."—Journal of British Studies

“Early modern thinkers used the past in a multitude of complex ways that we have only begun to understand. In this ambitious and wide-ranging collection, a roster of nineteen stellar scholars have made the most important contribution to this subject since F. J. Levy’s Tudor Historical Thought, first published in 1967.”
—Robert D. Hume, Evan Pugh Professor of English, Pennsylvania State University


“History, indeed, has many uses in this period as the needs of the present changed and as new ways were developed to satisfy them.  Between them the essays in this valuable collection range not only over a long and eventful historical period as England digested the hard-hitting, dislodging and lingering effects of The Reformation and the Civil Wars but also over profound cultural shifts. “ – R.C. Richardson, University of Winchester



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