Anna Marie Roos, “The First Egyptian Society (1741-43): The Royal Society, natural philosophy, and antiquarianism” (1er avr.)

Jeudi 1er avril à 17h : Anna Marie Roos (University of Lincoln), “The First Egyptian Society (1741-43): The Royal Society, natural philosophy, and antiquarianism”

 

The Egyptian Society (1741-43), the first of its kind, was created in Georgian England for the purpose of ‘promoting and preserving Egyptian and other antient learning’. Its antiquarian members either travelled to the Land of the Pharaohs as part of their Grand Tour, or were simply interested in Egypt’s material culture. As Mark Thomas Young (Centaurus, 2017) has indicated, fellows of the early Royal Society attended experimental demonstrations sometimes to produce effects for themselves, but more often to access ‘empirical material from which causal and axiomatic principles could be derived through discursive practice’. At society meetings, members could access this material in a variety of ways; experimental demonstrations existed alongside the reading of experimental reports, accounts of lay empirical practices and travellers’ reports’. The Egyptian Society fellows followed the same methodology, to discover principles of sociocultural and religious practices in Egypt, as well as to provide ‘object biographies’ of artefacts that belonged to members that they examined with speculations on manufacture and use.  I will show that the Egyptian Society approach to textual sources and artefacts was informed by the empiricism of the Royal Society, a form of what I term ‘scientific antiquarianism’. 

 

Anna Marie Roos is a Professor of the history of science and medicine at the University of Lincoln. She studies the early Royal Society, as well as natural history, chemistry, and medicine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. She is Editor of Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science. She has published The Salt of the Earth: Natural Philosophy, Medicine and Chymistry in England, 1650-1750 (Brill, 2007), Web of Nature: Martin Lister (1639-1712), the First Arachnologist (Brill, 2011), Martin Lister and His Remarkable Daughters. The Art of Science in the Seventeenth Century (Bodleian Library, 2018), and Goldfish (Reaktion Books, 2019). Her latest book, Martin Folkes (1690-1754). Newtonian, Antiquary, Connoisseur, is due in April 2021 with Oxford University Press.

 

Participer à la réunion Zoom : lien habituel, disponible auprès de Sandrine Parageau

 

Julian Pooley, “Printing the Past: Discovering the Archive of the Nichols family of printers, antiquaries and editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine,1777-1873” (25 mars)

Thursday March 25, 2021 at 5 p.m. : Julian Pooley (University of Leicester) “Printing the Past: Discovering the Archive of the Nichols family of printers, antiquaries and editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine,1777-1873”.

 

This paper tells the story of how the purchase of an anonymous pocket diary in a London bookshop, led me to discover extensive and previously unknown archives of John Nichols (1745-1826) and his family of printers, antiquaries and editors of the Gentleman’s Magazine.  Nichols was one of Georgian London’s most prominent printers, contracted to print for Parliament, the Royal Society and Society of Antiquaries.  He was also a literary biographer, chronicling the book trade and its customers over the long-eighteenth century; a pioneer of Renaissance culture through his Progresses of Queen Elizabeth and a leading antiquary whose History and Antiquities of the Town and County of Leicester 4 vols (1795-1815) transformed the way that English local history was written and illustrated.  The vast archive of family and business papers which he and his successors accumulated inspired his granddaughter to form her own collection of autograph letters, augmented by exchange with other collectors and by purchases in the London and Paris salerooms.  This internationally significant collection is now part of the 20,000 Nichols papers calendared and accessible via the Nichols Archive Database.  This paper will explore the value of the archive for studying the career of John Nichols, his editorship of the Gentleman’s Magazine and his achievements as a literary biographer and antiquary. It will also highlight some of the many French historical documents preserved in this archive.

 

Julian Pooley F.S.A. is Hon. Visiting Fellow of the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester and Public Services and Engagement Manager at Surrey History Centre, Woking.

Links:

Nichols Archive Project

https://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/history/people/staff-pages/previous-staff/jpooley/julian-pooley

http://www.bibsoc.org.uk/content/nichols-archive-project

 

Séance sur Zoom, lien habituel, disponible auprès de Stéphane Jettot

 <jettot@yahoo.com>

Jeudi 4 mars 2021 à 17 h : Stephen Mullen (Glasgow), « The rise of James Watt: Enlightenment, Commerce & Industry in a British Atlantic Merchant City, 1736-1774 »

Jeudi 4 mars 2021 à  17 h :  Stephen Mullen (Glasgow), The rise of James Watt: Enlightenment, Commerce & Industry in a British Atlantic Merchant City, 1736-1774


On 13 June 2020, during the global conversation about Black Lives Matter, a newspaper article in The Times revealed James Watt – inventor and ‘great improver’ of the steam engine – had historic connections with transatlantic slavery. The article ‘Black Lives Matter: James Watt, father of the age of steam, sold slaves’ came as a shock to many. My research, which underpinned this revelation, went back almost three years. As part of my research for the report ‘Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow’ in 2017-18, I identified that Watt was involved, alongside his father, in colonial commerce in Greenock and Glasgow in Scotland. Later archival work revealed James Watt was not just a beneficiary of his father but had a more direct role in trafficking an enslaved child, Frederick, in Glasgow in 1762. This paper, therefore, does two things; I trace the story of James Watt’s rise, including connections with Atlantic slavery and its commerce in the west of Scotland, then pose questions in comparative context about commemoration and celebration, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020.


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La conférence aura lieu en ligne de 17h à 18h30.

Lien Zoom habituel, disponible auprès de Jean-François Dunyach : <jfdunyach(at)free.fr>

Jan-Melissa Schramm : « The Idea of Universal Citizenship and the Rhetoric of Rights in the 1790s: Republican Virtue versus British Reform » (28 jan.)

Jeudi 28 janvier 2021 à  17 h : Jan-Melissa Schramm « The Idea of Universal Citizenship and the Rhetoric of Rights in the 1790s: Republican Virtue versus British Reform »

In the trial of Thomas Hardy for the seditious promotion of constitutional reform in London in 1794, the prosecution used all possible means to establish Hardy’s respect for the works of Thomas Paine, and to claim that such respect was inconsistent with British patriotism.  Crucial to this process was Paine’s adoption of French citizenship:
“A letter was then read [to the jury] from Thomas Paine to the People of France, dated Sept. 25, 1792; in this letter he returns them thanks for having elected him a French Citizen, and a Member of the Convention, and on having broken the line which limited patriotism, like vegetation, to the soil.  Theirs, he said, was not the paltry cause of Kings, but the great cause of mankind.”
Historians have long seen the French Revolution as a critical episode in the story of modern citizenship, encouraging, as counsel for the Crown noted above, the crucial separation of patriotism from ‘the soil’ on which a man was born.  But the idea of citizenship was also deeply problematic, promising much and often delivering little to those who most needed its protection.  In this paper, I will look at the relationship between emergent definitions of citizenship and the language of human rights which rose to prominence in this period, probing both their utopian aims and their conceptual incoherence.  I will pay particular attention to the works of Bentham, Godwin and Paine.

Jan-Melissa Schramm est professeure de Droit et Littérature à l’université de Cambridge.  Elle a récemment publié Censorship and the Representation of the Sacred in Nineteenth-Century England (OUP 2019) et co-édité Sacrifice and the Modern Literature of War (OUP 2018).
 
La réunion se déroulera sur Zoom. Le lien est disponible auprès de fabrice.bensimon(at)sorbonne-universite.fr 

Jane Humphries, “History from Underneath: Girls and the Industrial Revolution » (10 déc.)

Jeudi 10 décembre à 17h : Jane Humphries (Oxford), “History from Underneath: Girls and the Industrial Revolution »

Investigations of the effects of industrialisation on young people usually (reflecting the sources available) focus on boys and young men.  Yet historians are suspicious that girls, while relatively disadvantaged in working-class households, still contributed to  ‘the story of Europe’s path to industrial development’ (Maynes et al, 2005, 5) . This paper investigates the position of girls in working-class families using working-class life writing, comparing women’s stories with those of men (Humphries, 2010).  It asks how the expectations and stresses of family life impacted on girls, and whether this left them disadvantaged relative to their brothers in seizing the opportunities and fending off the threats to wellbeing occasioned by economic change.  My comparative review reveals many similarities between boy and girls’ experiences but some important differences.  Girls shared in the dip in age at starting work that earlier work has shown boys experienced in the early nineteenth century, but throughout the period studied, they had less education and narrower job opportunities.  One startling finding concerns the unsettling evidence of girls’ greater vulnerability to sexual predation, which in turn provided constraints on how women lived their lives. Moreover, the gendering of life chances spilled over from the economic to the demographic, for maternity looms over the women’s accounts, a destiny shared with mothers who had faced the same horrors of childbirth without effective medical assistance or analgesics. Girls anticipated the gendered trials and tribulations which their mothers endured and this united them. 

 

Jane Humphries est professeure retraitée d’histoire économique à l’université d’Oxford. Elle est notamment l’auteure de Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Sur le même sujet, elle a  co-écrit et présenté le documentaire de BBC4, The Children Who Built Victorian Britain (disponible sur YouTube).

Lien Zoom habituel, disponible auprès de fbensimon(at)free.fr 

Murray Pittock, « Edinburgh’s Enlightenment 1660-1750: The French Connexion » (26 nov.)

Jeudi 26 novembre à 17h : Murray Pittock (University of Glasgow), « Edinburgh’s Enlightenment 1660-1750: The French Connexion »

This lecture examines the final functional century of the Auld Alliance in terms of France’s historic influences on Scotland and its capital, and on the extent that these underpinned the infrastructural and civic development of the Scottish Enlightenment. Scotland’s exclusion from an independent foreign policy after 1603 led to a series of futile attempts to embed Scottish interests in the English Empire which brought it into conflict with France for the first time; but Scottish intellectuals continued to flourish in French society. After 1707, Scotland’s status changed and French foreign policy objectives frequently focused on the redivision of the new British state through intermittent support for the Stuarts. The liberty-loving mountaineer and the concept of Highlandism left an enduring legacy in France. In Scotland, the capital, Edinburgh, not only dominated Scotland’s trade with France and continued to look to France-and in particular Paris- for a lead in urban design and other areas, but also engaged with its example in infrastructure, communications, research, innovation, the arts and commerce and society as well as providing-in John Law-one of the most controversial and farsighted financial innovators of the modern era. The lecture closes with a brief consideration of France’s contribution to the last major Jacobite Rising of 1745, and the end of the Auld Alliance when Le Grand Dérangement brought British Army policy in Scotland into French Canada, followed by Scottish troops.

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Lien Zoom habituel, disponible auprès de Jean-François Dunyach <jean-francois.dunyach(at)paris-sorbonne.fr

Stéphane Jettot : « La commercialisation des généalogies britanniques au 18e siècle » (12/03)


Attention : En raison de la grève du jeudi 5 mars dans les universités, la séance avec Stéphane Jettot ce jour-là est reportée au jeudi 12 mars (cf. ci-dessous). La séance prévue avec Laura Schwartz est reportée sine die.

Stéphane Jettot, de Sorbonne Université, présentera sa communication « La commercialisation des généalogies britanniques au 18e siècle » le jeudi 12 mars à 17h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e, salle D421.

Résumé : Pendant l’époque moderne, peintres, sculpteurs, érudits et hérauts d’arme ont été chargés, par les élites anciennes et nouvelles, de la réalisation d’œuvres somptuaires destinées à la glorification des ancêtres.  Monuments funéraires, vitraux, tableaux, large ouvrages en vélin sont autant de supports prestigieux de cette ferveur généalogique. Après le Commonwealth, cette culture lignagère connaît un lent déclin et se trouve ensuite éclipsée par l’esprit des Lumières et la sociabilité  des coffee houses et des clubs. L’impulsion généalogique semble renaître à la faveur de la révolution française et des guerres napoléoniennes. Romans, sociétés savantes, dictionnaires biographiques, guides de voyage insèrent les récits familiaux aristocratiques dans une histoire nationale britannique à destination d’un plus large public. L’objectif de ma recherche est de restituer cette transition entre deux régimes généalogiques, l’un tourné vers la célébration exclusive de quelques familles et l’autre vers une culture patrimoniale et aristocratique. Il convient pour cela de reconsidérer la place du dix-huitième siècle dans cette évolution. La commercialisation par des libraires londoniens  de dictionnaires nobiliaires comme les Peerages ou les Baronetages, a joué un rôle considérable dans la reconfiguration des pratiques généalogiques. Ces dernières, loin de refléter les lubies de quelques nobles nostalgiques, offrent un point de vue inédit sur les transformations des élites britanniques sur un long dix-huitième siècle.

Peter C. Mancall : “Myth and Reality at the Founding of English America” (27/02, 15h-16h30)

Avant la prochaine séance du séminaire (27 février, Steven O’Connor) Peter C. Mancall interviendra de 15h à 16h30 (Serpente, D117), dans le cadre du séminaire du laboratoire Histoire et dynamique des espaces anglophones (HDEA). Son intervention portera sur le livre qu’il est en train d’achever sur les origines des Etats-Unis pour la série The Oxford History of the United States, American Origins
 
L’intervention est intitulée “Myth and Reality at the Founding of English America”. 
 
The origins of English America—the territory that would eventually form the basis for the United States—remain shrouded in myth. Nowhere are those ancient thoughts more powerful than in New England, the alleged home of the first Thanksgiving, a meal that brought together English and Native Americans.  With the 400th anniversary of the English landing at Plymouth being commemorated this year, now seems the time to assess the veracity of the mythic origins of the nation.
 
Peter Mancall est professeur d’histoire et d’anthropologie à University of Southern California ; il est pour l’année en cours Harmsworth Professor of American History at the University of Oxford. Il est l’auteur de nombreux ouvrages, dont The Trials of Thomas Morton: An Anglican Lawyer, His Puritan Foes, and the Battle for a New England (Yale University Press, 2019).
 
 

Marion Leclair : « Quels lecteurs pour le roman radical anglais ? (1780-1850) » (13/02)

Marion Leclair, de l’Université d’Arras, présentera sa communication « Quels lecteurs pour le roman radical anglais ? (1780-1850) » le jeudi 13 février de 17h à 18h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e, salle D421.


Résumé : Dans les années 1790 en Angleterre, alors que fait rage la controverse Burke-Paine sur la Révolution française, le roman est perçu par certains « jacobins » anglais (ainsi que par leurs adversaires « anti-jacobins ») comme une arme de diffusion des idées radicales. William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft ou John Thelwall peuvent ainsi l’utiliser, comme l’écrit Godwin dans la préface de Caleb Williams, comme « véhicule » d’instruction politique, auprès d’un lectorat grossi par le développement du marché du roman au cours du dix-huitième siècle. La majorité des études consacrées aux romans radicaux, qui abordent ce corpus sous l’angle de l’histoire intellectuelle, s’intéressent peu au lectorat effectif du roman radical – cantonnant l’étude de leur réception à celle de leurs éminents lecteurs (Coleridge, Byron, Shelley) au sein du cercle Godwin, et oubliant de questionner la possibilité de diffusion élargie revendiquée par leurs auteurs. Le croisement de différentes sources extra-littéraires (catalogues d’éditeurs et de bibliothèques de prêt, presse périodique, mémoires d’artisans) suggère au contraire une diffusion relativement restreinte, à une époque où le prix des romans neufs reste élevé et leur tirage encore modeste. Et si presse et sociétés radicales facilitent l’accès à l’imprimé de l’artisanat urbain politisé par le mouvement radical, la culture du savoir utile qui l’imprègne aiguille ses membres vers de plus saines lectures. C’est cette histoire de la réception des romans radicaux, jusqu’à leur intégration parallèle et parcellaire, au début de la période victorienne, au canon romanesque et au panthéon chartiste, que l’exposé se propose de retracer.

Lina Weber: « Political economy after Enlightenment. The case of Dugald Stewart » (24/10)

Lina Weber, de University of St Andrews, présentera sa communication « Political economy after Enlightenment. The case of Dugald Stewart » le jeudi 24 octobre 2019 de 17h à 18h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e, salle D421

Abstract

Scholars often assigned Dugald Stewart (1753-1828) a crucial role in popularising and disseminating the Scottish Enlightenment. A highly esteemed professor for moral philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, Stewart was the first to dedicate a separate academic course on political economy in Britain. Since he never published these lectures and his manuscripts were burnt posthumously, scholars have relied on the edition made by William Hamilton in the 1850s. Drawing on hitherto-neglected notes of students, this paper will shed new light on Stewart’s political economy and on his position between the Enlightenment and Victorian liberalism.
 
Biographie : Lina Weber a soutenu en 2019 une thèse à l’université d’Amsterdam intitulée « ‘Bound by debt. Political arguments concerning state finance in Great Britain and the Dutch Republic, 1694-1795’. Elle a publié des articles sur la pensée économique de David Hume et d’isaac Iselin. Elle est actuellement postdoctorante à l’université de St Andrews (Ecosse), et participe au projet « Après les Lumières – la vie intellectuelle en Ecosse de 1790 à 1843 » financé par le Leverhulme Trust. Elle travaille notamment sur l’économie politique et la philosophie morale de Dugald Stewart.

Jacinthe de Montigny : « La perception du Canada dans la presse anglaise et française au midi du XVIIIe siècle (1739-1763) » (10/10/2019)

Jacinthe de Montigny (Québec – Trois Rivières), présentera sa communication « La perception du Canada dans la presse anglaise et française au midi du XVIIIe siècle (1739-1763) » le jeudi 10 octobre 2019 de 17h à 18h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e, salle D421

Résumé: Lors de cette intervention, Jacinthe De Montigny présentera les éléments qui encadrent son projet doctoral qui porte sur la perception du Canada dans l’opinion publique anglaise et française au midi du XVIIIe siècle. Par l’intermédiaire d’un bref bilan historiographique, d’une présentation des sources à l’étude et de la structure méthodologique, elle fera la preuve qu’il importe de se questionner sur les enjeux qui entourent le Canada dans les discours écrits dans la presse pour comprendre comment la France et la Grande-Bretagne ont préparé leur population respective à la conservation ou la conquête de cette colonie avant, pendant et après la guerre de Sept Ans (1756-1763).
 
Biographie : Jacinthe De Montigny est candidate au doctorat en histoire à l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières et à l’Université Paris IV-Sorbonne sous la direction de Messieurs Laurent Turcot et François-Joseph Ruggiu. Ses recherches portent sur la perception du Canada dans l’opinion publique anglaise et française dans la première moitié du XVIIIe siècle. Déposé en janvier 2016 à l’Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, son mémoire est intitulé : « La conquête du Canada était-elle préméditée? : une étude des journaux londoniens entre 1744 et 1763 ». Elle collabore également à la Chaire de recherche du Canada en histoire des loisirs et des divertissements (UQTR) et au Centre Roland-Mousnier (Paris IV-Sorbonne).

Discutant : Jean-François Dunyach (Sorbonne Université)

David Wootton, « Power, pleasure and profit: insatiable appetites from Hobbes to Smith » (09/05)

David Wootton (Anniversary Professor, University of York) présentera sa communication “Power, pleasure and profit: insatiable appetites from Hobbes to Smith » autour de son livre Power, Pleasure and Profit (Harvard UP, 2018) jeudi 9 mai 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

« My argument is that moral, social, and economic life was transformed in line with Hobbes’s claim that pleasure and happiness are purely subjective, and that there is no summum bonum or highest good. I trace the impact of this view through the moral, political and economic thinking of the Enlightenment, particularly the British Enlightenment, from Locke to Bentham. In my talk I will touch briefly on some of the key themes of my book (with particular reference to Hume), and I will look in particular at a topic where much of the pioneering intellectual work was French, but which lie at the heart of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776): the question of famine. I will argue that Smith’s inability to think about famine is symptomatic of the intellectual failures of the post-Hobbesian Enlightenment. These intellectual failures continue to be our own. »

David Wootton is Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York. He works on European cultural and intellectual history from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. He has published widely on the history of science and medicine (Bad Medicine: Doctors doing harm since Hippocrates, 2006, Galileo: Watcher of the Skies, 2010 and The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution, 2016). His latest book, Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison was recently published by Harvard University Press (2018). 

Discutante : Catherine Marshall (Cergy-Pontoise)

Contact : Emmanuelle de Champs: emmanuelle.de-champ@u-cergy.fr  

Helen Berry: “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings” (18/04)

Helen Berry (Université de Newcastle), “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings”. Jeudi 18 avril 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

«  Helen Berry’s new book Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London’s Foundlings (Oxford: OUP, 2019) tells the story of what happened to the thousands of children who were raised at the London Foundling Hospital, Coram’s brainchild, which opened in 1741 and grew to become the most famous charity in Georgian England. It provides vivid insights into the lives and fortunes of London’s poorest children, from the earliest days of the Foundling Hospital to the mid-Victorian era, when Charles Dickens was moved by his observations of the charity’s work to campaign on behalf of orphans. Through the lives of London’s foundlings, this book provides readers with a street-level insight into the wider global history of a period of monumental change in British history as the nation grew into the world’s leading superpower. Some foundling children were destined for Britain’s ‘outer Empire’ overseas, but many more toiled in the ‘inner Empire’, labouring in the cotton mills and factories of northern England at the dawn of the new industrial age.

Through extensive archival research, Helen Berry uncovers previously untold stories of what happened to former foundlings, including the suffering and small triumphs they experienced as child workers during the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes, using many different fragments of evidence, the voices of the children themselves emerge. Extracts from George King’s autobiography, the only surviving first-hand account written by a Foundling Hospital child born in the eighteenth century, published here for the first time, provide touching insights into how he came to terms with his upbringing. Remarkably he played a part in Trafalgar, one of the most iconic battles in British Naval history. His personal courage and resilience in overcoming the disadvantages of his birth form a lasting testimony to the strength of the human spirit. »   

Répondant : Isabelle Robin, Sorbonne Université

Jessica Davidson : « Les foires provinciales en Angleterre (1750-1850) » (21/03)

Jessica Davidson, de l’Université d’Oxford, présentera sa communication « Les foires provinciales en Angleterre (1750-1850) », le jeudi 21 mars 2019 de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421.

Jessica Davidson a entrepris d’importantes recherches sur les fonctions économiques et politiques des foires anglaises de 1750 à 1850. Leur importance dans la vie locale et régionale du pays a été occultée par une historiographie imposante valorisant les pratiques consuméristes des élites et des classes moyennes ou bien les échanges de produits sur une échelle globale. Pour l’Angleterre, l’organisation des échanges a surtout été analysée à partir du commerce urbain de détail aux dépens des formes plus anciennes de transactions qui se déroulaient dans les foires depuis l’époque médiévale. Le paradigme d’une modernité économique au dix-huitième siècle ne doit pas faire oublier la persistance de rituels civiques et négociants autour des foires locales. L’exemple de Bristol et de son arrière-pays constituera la toile de fond de cette enquête et permettra de penser l’articulation entre économie et territoire urbain.

Joanna Innes: “What price the long eighteenth century? Costs and benefits of this periodization.” (31/01)

Joanna Innes, de Somerville College, Oxford, et professeure invitée à l’EHESS, présentera sa communication “What price the long eighteenth century? Costs and benefits of this periodization.” le jeudi 31 janvier 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

Abstract:

In this talk I will reflect on a concept that has played an important part in organising thinking about British history since the 1980s: the concept of the ‘long eighteenth century’. I will explore how and speculate about why the phrase caught on. It now figures in the titles of many publications, and in the text of still more; it plays a part in determining how teaching is organised and research projects are conceptualised. It is associated with a very influential set of paradigms, including the ‘fiscal-military state’, the formation of British identity; enlightenment and politeness. Because it has important intellectual and practical effects, it’s important that we should reflect on its uses and limitations. I will share my thoughts on these, with a view to stimulating more general discussion. I am particularly concerned with the effects this concept has had in practice – perhaps not necessarily, but in practice – on how we think about early nineteenth-century British history, but I’d encourage those attending to engage with these questions from their own research and teaching perspectives.

Discutant : Jean-François Dunyach