Luxe Blaxill,’Text Mining and Political History: challenges and opportunities in the age of Big Data’ (8 fév.)

Jeudi 8er février 2024 à 17h : Luke Blaxill (Oxford) – ‘Text Mining and Political History: challenges and opportunities in the age of Big Data”
This paper is about the challenges and opportunities afforded by the computational analysis of unreadably large textual datasets. I argue that historians have broadly failed to grasp these profound opportunities. Despite the abundance of machine-readable data liberated by digitisation, there has been no widespread embrace of text mining or more general revival of cliometrics. This ambivalence has arisen mainly through apathy and side-lining computational analysis to a specialist methodological niche. The absence of justification is damaging to the intellectual vitality of the discipline and its capacity to face the dawning age of data science and associated developments in artificial intelligence, seen recently with Chat GPT 4.

This paper will showcase examples of text mining in action in modern British political history. Case studies will include election speeches in the period 1880-1910, the contributions of women MPs in Parliament since 1945, and nineteenth century election violence.

I argue for a reopening of the wider debate about the historian and the computer. This requires informed sceptics to come forward to meet the advocates to discuss how we face the future. British political history has a proud tradition of methodological innovation and is a subfield which could begin a debate that has fundamental implications for the whole discipline

Luke Blaxill is college lecturer in Modern British History at Hertford College University of Oxford. He has published widely on text mining in History, especially British politics. His first book, The War of Words: the language of British Elections 1880-1914 was published in 2020 with the Royal Historical Society.

Alison Cathcart, ‘James VI & I and his empire of islands’  (1er fév.)

Jeudi 1er février 2024 à 17h

 Alison Cathcart (University of Stirling):  

‘James VI & I and his empire of islands’ 


As King of Scotland (1566-1603) and then King of Scotland, England, and Ireland (1603-1625) literature on James tends to focus on his governance either north or south of the border and thus adopts a rather national or territorial focus. Indeed, there remains a focus on court, council, church, and parliament with James regarded as an imperial monarch keen to assert his royal authority throughout his kingdom. But within the wider arguments regarding state formation, the outlying, or so-called peripheral, regions of his ‘impyre’ are ignored. This paper seeks to examine James’ rule over such outlying regions, specifically island communities, to determine how these communities were viewed from the centre and how James sought to integrate them into his wider realm. While historians of Scotland tend to view James (post-1603) as a king increasingly out of touch with his ‘his native soile and place of birth …and breeding’, this paper will challenge such perspectives arguing that James was coordinating policy across his realms and dominions. In doing so it will focus on Orkney and Shetland and the Channel Islands.


Alison Cathcart est Professor of early-modern History à l’université de Stirling. On lui doit notamment Plantations by Land and Sea: North Channel Communities of the Atlantic Archipelago c.1550-1625, Oxford: Peter Lang, 2021, et Scotland and the Wider World: Essays in honour of Allan I. Macinnes. Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2022.



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


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

Anne Dunan-Page : “Les archives dissidentes des 17e et 18e siècles : pour une histoire de la religion vécue ” (27/04)

Anne Dunan-Page, de l’université Aix-Marseille, présentera sa communication “Les archives dissidentes des 17e et 18e siècles : pour une histoire de la religion vécue ” le jeudi 27 avril 2017, de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006, salle D421.

Discutants : Pierre Lurbe (Paris IV-Sorbonne) et Rémy Bethmont (Paris VIII).

Résumé :

“Le concept de « religion vécue » (lived religion), issu de la sociologie des religions, a été notamment popularisé aux États-Unis au milieu des années 80 par Robert Orsi et The Madonna of 115th Street, étude de la communauté catholique italienne à Harlem, demeure un ouvrage essentiel. Des tentatives de définition d’un concept parfois jugé trop vague pour être opérationnel se sont alors multipliées, mettant l’accent sur les phénomènes de création et d’imagination qui entrent en tension avec les dogmes et les institutions religieuses, phénomènes liés à des « expériences » du vécu. Comme d’autres transdisciplines, la religion vécue, qui convoque des méthodes issues de la sociologie, de l’ethnologie, de la psychologie, de l’histoire, de la théologie pastorale, des études de genre, est aujourd’hui en voie d’institutionnalisation, tandis que se multiplient les analyses des sociétés multi-confessionnelles.

Le but de ce séminaire est de préciser pourquoi il nous paraît pertinent de convoquer ce concept pour une étude du protestantisme en Grande-Bretagne au XVIIe siècle – en particulier la transmission du vécu religieux chez les groupes minoritaires – en examinant en quoi il diffère de l’étude de la religion populaire et d’une simple opposition à la religion « légale ».

L’application de la religion vécue à l’époque moderne se pose en effet aujourd’hui, non seulement aux États-Unis, grâce aux travaux de David D. Hall, mais aussi en Europe, dans le contexte de la longue Réforme (Laurence Croq et David Garrioch [dir.], La Religion vécue. Les laïcs dans l’Europe moderne, 2013 ; Sari Katajala-Peltomaa et Raisa Maria Toivo [eds], Lived Religion and the Long Reformation in Northern Europe, 2016). Le développement actuel des études archivistiques sur les dissidents britanniques, essentiellement sous les derniers Stuarts, fait partie de cette tendance. L’étude des archives permet de mieux appréhender la tension entre les pratiques individuelles et les pratiques de groupe, la question de la discipline ecclésiastique comme facteur de cohésion communautaire, les relations entre les différentes confessions, et la façon dont l’étude des textes et de la narrativité peut s’intégrer à une histoire du vécu religieux.”

Anne Dunan-Page est Professeur de littérature et de civilisation britanniques à Aix-Marseille Université où elle dirige le Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone (E.A 853). Son prochain ouvrage, L’Expérience puritaine. Vies et récits de dissidents (XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles) paraîtra à l’été 2017 aux Éditions du Cerf.

Andrew Thompson: “Unravelling the Relationships between Humanitarianism, Human Rights and Decolonisation: Time for a Radical Rethink?” (09/02)

Andrew Thompson, de University of Exeter, présentera sa communication “Unravelling the Relationships between Humanitarianism, Human Rights and Decolonisation: Time for a Radical Rethink?” le jeudi 9 février de 17h30 à 19h30. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, 75006, salle D421.

Résumé :

“Humanitarianism, human rights and decolonisation: each, in their own right, have generated a substantial corpus of scholarship. As fields of historical enquiry humanitarianism and human rights have lately emerged. Decolonisation is an older historiography, which although stuck for some time in the doldrums, is now being revitalised. Decolonisation and humanitarianism have spun largely in their own orbits: one can read entire histories of decolonisation without coming across any reference to humanitarianism and vice-versa. The relationship between decolonisation and human rights has attracted more attention, yet with sharply contrasting views of the extent and consequences of their connection.

This paper will seek to unravel the relationships between three major historical phenomena, the encounter between which remains strangely obscure. The argument is that after 1945 humanitarianism, human rights and decolonisation were so closely entangled that their histories not only illuminate each other but are barely comprehensible when studied in isolation. The paper as a whole is framed around a critical dialectic that lay at the very heart of decolonisation, namely, on the one hand, how humanitarianism and human rights were shaped by the geopolitical regime that was in place at the end of empire, and that served the interests of Europe’s colonial powers, and, on the other, the effects of humanitarianism and human rights upon that geopolitical regime.

We will see how, at the intersection of decolonisation, the Cold War and post-war globalisation, a new generation of humanitarian and human rights groups found themselves assuming a much larger and in many ways unforeseen role in world affairs. Humanitarians and human rights activists hoped to change face of a decolonising world, but that decolonising world in turn profoundly affected what they were able to do and what they eventually became.”

Discutante : Mélanie Torrent (Université Paris Diderot)

Autour d’E.P. Thompson – Christophe Jaquet, Philippe Minard, Jean Boutier, Arundhati Virmani (01/12)

Lors de cette séance, un portrait d’Edward Palmer Thompson, historien aussi militant qu’atypique, sera suivi par une introduction à chacun de ses deux ouvrages récemment traduits en français.  Comment lire E.P. Thompson aujourd’hui ? Quelle est l’actualité de sa pensée et de son oeuvre ? Voilà les questions auxquelles le public sera invité à réfléchir.
Nous accueillerons Christophe Jaquet et Philippe Minard (Université Paris 8 / EHESS), traducteurs de La guerre des forêts (La Découverte, 2014), ainsi que Jean Boutier (EHESS) et Arundhati Virmani (EHESS), traducteurs de Les usages de la coutume (Editions de l’EHESS, 2015).

Discutante : Ophélie Siméon (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle –Paris III)

Emmanuelle de Champs: “Le Bentham français ? Autour du livre Enlightenment and Utility. Bentham in France, Bentham in French”

Emmanuelle de Champs de l’Université Cergy-Pontoise présentera sa communication “Le Bentham français ? Autour du livre Enlightenment and Utility. Bentham in France, Bentham in French (CUP, 2015)” le jeudi 28 mai, de 17h30 à 19h30. Attention changement de salle: la séance aura lieu en salle D323.

Cette dernière séance de l’année sera suivie d’un pot amical, vers 19h.

Maison de la Recherche de l’Université Paris IV-Sorbonne (28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e), salle D421. Le séminaire est ouvert aux étudiants de Master et doctorat, ainsi qu’à toutes les personnes intéressées. En raison des contrôles à l’entrée du bâtiment, il est recommandé d’imprimer cette annonce et de la présenter à l’accueil.

Podcast ci-dessous et sur le site de l’IHR:


Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), le fondateur de l’utilitarisme classique, est un francophile et un citoyen du monde. Cette communication explore les enjeux méthodologiques et historiques d’une étude de sa pensée dans un contexte français et francophone. Une telle enquête s’attache à la fois à retracer la formation intellectuelle du philosophe et sa volonté de contribuer à l’essor d’une pensée des Lumières marquée par les écrits de Voltaire, d’Alembert et Helvétius et à montrer comment cette ambition s’incarne dans des réseaux et des sociabilités spécifiques. Continuer la lecture

Peter Gray, “The Great Irish Famine and Transatlantic Historiographies, 1847-1914”

Peter Gray, de Queen’s University, Belfast, présentera sa communication “The Great Irish Famine and Transatlantic Historiographies, 1847-1914”, le jeudi 11 décembre. Exceptionnellement, cette séance aura lieu de 18h à 20h. La séance est organisée conjointement avec Mondes Anglophones, Politique et Société (MAPS) de Paris IV – Sorbonne.

Maison de la Recherche de l’université Paris IV-Sorbonne (28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e), salle D421. Le séminaire est ouvert aux étudiants de Master et doctorat, ainsi qu’à toutes les personnes intéressées.

Podcast ci-dessous et sur le site de l’IHR.


The second half of the 19th century saw in the Anglophone world the growing prestige of ‘History’ as an authoritative genre for the interpretation of past events, and to some extent the growing prominence of ‘historians’ (some self-defined, others holding prestigious professional positions) as public intellectuals commenting on current affairs. This lecture will focus on the self-consciously ‘historical’ constructions of the Great Irish Famine in the decades preceding the First World War, aware that these occurred in the contexts of both a frenzy of politicised instrumentalisation of the crisis by Irish nationalists and the salience of recalled memory on the part of many of the writers who had been observers or participants in the events they depicted. It gives particular emphasis to the transatlantic nature of the historical formation of the Famine, not just because of the immense importance of Irish America as a site of Famine memorialisation, but also because of the role played by Anglo-America as the focus for much of the public contestations of meaning articulated by British and Irish liberal as well as Irish nationalist writers.