History : An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice book cover
2nd Edition

An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice

ISBN 9781138923997
Published March 23, 2017 by Routledge
518 Pages 42 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Demystifying the subject with clarity and verve, History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice familiarizes the reader with the varied spectrum of historical approaches in a balanced, comprehensive and engaging manner. Global in scope, and covering a wide range of topics from the ancient and medieval worlds to the twenty-first century, it explores historical perspectives not only from historiography itself, but from related areas such as literature, sociology, geography and anthropology.

Clearly written, accessible and student-friendly, this second edition is fully updated throughout to include:

  • An increased spread of case studies from beyond Europe, especially from American and imperial histories.
  • New chapters on important and growing areas of historical inquiry, such as environmental history and digital history
  • Expanded sections on political, cultural and social history
  • More discussion of non-traditional forms of historical representation and knowledge like film, fiction and video games.

Accompanied by a new companion website (www.routledge.com/cw/claus) containing valuable supporting material for students and instructors such as discussion questions, further reading and web links, this book is an essential introduction for all students of historical theory and method.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

Prologue: history matters



Part 1 Perspectives

Chapter 1: Proof, objectivity and causality

  1. History: science or art?
  2. The status of historical knowledge
  3. Evidence and interpretation
  4. Causes in history

Chapter 2: Ordering of time

  1. Time, history, modernity
  2. Newton and the ‘time reckoner’
  3. Periodization
  4. The shape of things to come

Part 2 Histories and Philosophies

Chapter 3: Ideas of History; from the ancients to the Christians

  1. Herodotus and gold-digging ants
  2. Thucydides and reason: an historian for our times?
  3. What did the Romans ever do for history?
  4. Christianity and the end of days

Chapter 4: From the Middle Ages to the Early Modern

  1. European Christendom and the age of Bede
  2. Peoples of the book: Jewish and Islamic conceptions of history
  3. Renaissance humanism and rediscovery of the classics
  4. The battle of books: Camden, Clarendon and English identity

Chapter 5: Enlightenment and Romanticism

  1. The English Enlightenment?
  2. Secular histories
  3. Romanticism: Scott and Carlyle

Chapter 6: The English Tradition

  1. Responses to the Enlightenment: Edmund Burke
  2. Constitutionalism and the Whig interpretation of history
  3. JH Plumb and the new Whigs

Chapter 7: The North American Tradition

  1. America and the New Order of the Ages
  2. The progressive or new historians
  3. The consensus historians
  4. The other America

Chapter 8: Histories of Revolutions; Revolutionary histories

  1. Paine and the radical tradition
  2. French and German Experiences
  3. Germany, Hegel and the Spirit of History
  4. Marx and ‘historical materialism’
  5. Marxism in the twentieth century

Chapter 9: Postmodernism and Postcolonialism

  1. Modernity and the Enlightenment
  2. Postmodernism
  3. Postcolonialism and the West


Part 3 Varieties

Chapter 10: Political History

  1. Theories of the state
  2. High and low politics: the case of the British Labour Party
  3. Beyond state and party: political histories and civil society

Chapter 11: Economic History

  1. Population and social change
  2. Economic historians and the big historical questions
  3. The business of business history

Chapter 12: Social History

  1. The emergence of social history
  2. Class and authority
  3. The family in history

Chapter 13: Cultural History

  1. What is cultural history?
  2. The national character
  3. The promise of cultural history: conflict and carnival

Chapter 14: Feminism, Gender and Women’s History

  1. Feminism and history
  2. The attack on class
  3. Gender and identity

Chapter 15: Public History

  1. What is public about history?
  2. Consumption of public history
  3. Producing public history
  4. Public history as contested knowledge

Chapter 16: Visual History

  1. Visual histories
  2. Ways of seeing: Paintings
  3. Ways of seeing: Prints and photographs

Chapter 17: Global history

  1. The challenges of global history
  2. Origins of the global imagination
  3. Enter ‘new world history’

Chapter 18: Environmental history

  1. The scope of environmental history
  2. Historic precedents
  3. European colonialism
  4. Modern environmentalism

Part 4 History and Other Disciplines

Chapter 19: Archaeology

  1. The lure of archaeology
  2. The theoretical turn: Collingwood and Childe
  3. Historical archaeology
  4. Jerusalem and its layers

Chapter 20: Anthropology

  1. Pens and pith helmets
  2. Functionalism and structuralism
  3. Historical myths: Jewish conspiracies and the ‘blood libel’
  4. The ‘dying god’: Captain Cook and ethnohistory
  5. Microhistories: worms, night battles and ecstasies

Chapter 21: Literature

  1. Literature as history
  2. The new historicism: Text and context
  3. The graphic novel
  4. Writing the metropolis

Chapter 22: Geography

  1. History, space and place
  2. Geographies of empire
  3. How to lie with maps


Chapter 23: Archives in a Digital World

  1. What is an archive?
  2. ‘When we return as human beings again’: archives and the ashes
  3. Speaking for ourselves: state and community archives
  4. Archives and the digital turn

Chapter 24: Oral History

  1. Anthropologists of ourselves
  2. Oral historiographies
  3. The limits of memory: Arthur Harding and the East End underworld
  4. The wider experience



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Dr Peter Claus is Access Fellow and Lecturer in History, Pembroke College, University of Oxford. His doctoral research on the Corporation of London was followed by work on the history of the City and East end of London, which developed into an interest in unofficial forms of urban social investigation in the metropolis along with a commitment to outreach, public history and the democratisation of the archive. This holistic approach to the study, practice and teaching of history has prompted an accessible and comprehensive introduction to historiography which draws on an engagement with diverse historical constituencies.

Professor John Marriott is Senior Associate, also at Pembroke College, Oxford. His research has focused on London and Empire with a particular emphasis on the nexus between East London and India since the eighteenth century. His numerous books include The Culture of Labourism: The East End between the Wars (1991, The Other Empire: Metropolis, India and Progress in the Colonial Imagination (2003), Beyond the Tower: a History of East London (2011) and The Ashgate Research Companion to Modern Imperial Histories (2012), co-edited with Professor Philippa Levine. He is now working on the origins of colonial land reform in the seventeenth century, and the demands of young twins.



"Peter Claus and John Marriott’s insightful book History: An Introduction to Theory, Method and Practice offers a most useful introduction to the study of history. The authors chart the development of the discipline from Herodotus to the present day in a clear, logical and concise manner, drawing on a wealth of fascinating illustrative material to map out key developments in the subject. This comprehensive and perceptive book is a must-read for students of history and should be made essential reading on any undergraduate or graduate theory and methods course."

Robert James, University of Portsmouth, UK

"Claus and Marriott have produced an excellent textbook, impressively comprehensive in scope and detail, yet with a logical structure and short, easily manageable chapters, and written in a concise, accessible style aimed at the undergraduate reader. A must for historiography courses."

Sacha Davis, University of Newcastle, Australia

"A welcome revised and updated guide to the discipline of history, its variety, and practice. History is a comprehensive discussion of the development of the subject, different approaches of history, as well as a guide to techniques. It is an essential text for students that mixes historiography, theory, and methodology and is richly illustrated with examples."

Kevin Linch, University of Leeds, UK