Diagnosing Froude's disease: boundary work and the discipline of history in late-Victorian Britain

Hesketh, Ian (2008) Diagnosing Froude's disease: boundary work and the discipline of history in late-Victorian Britain. History and Theory, 47 3: 373-395. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2303.2008.00460.x

Author Hesketh, Ian
Title Diagnosing Froude's disease: boundary work and the discipline of history in late-Victorian Britain
Journal name History and Theory   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0018-2656
Publication date 2008-10
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-2303.2008.00460.x
Volume 47
Issue 3
Start page 373
End page 395
Total pages 23
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Historians looking to make history a professional discipline of study in Victorian Britain believed they had to establish firm boundaries demarcating history from other literary disciplines. James Anthony Froude ignored such boundaries. The popularity of his historical narratives was a constant reminder of the continued existence of a supposedly overturned phase of historiography in which the historian was also a man of letters, transcending the boundary separating fact from fiction and literature from history. Just as professionalizing historians were constructing a methodology that called on historians to be inductive empirical workers, Froude refused to accept the new science of history, and suggested instead that history was an individual enterprise, one more concerned with drama and art than with science. E. A. Freeman warned the historical community that they “cannot welcome [Froude] as a partner in their labors, as a fellow-worker in the cause of historic truth.”

This article examines the boundary work of a professionalizing history by considering the attempt to exclude Froude from the historian's discourse, an attempt that involved a communal campaign that sought to represent Froude as “constitutionally inaccurate.” Froude suffered from “an inborn and incurable twist,” argued Freeman, thereby diagnosing “Froude's disease” as the inability to “make an accurate statement about any matter.” By unpacking the construction of “Froude's disease,” the article exposes the disciplinary techniques at work in the professionalization of history, techniques that sought to exclude non-scientific modes of thought such as that offered by Froude.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 0 times in Scopus Article
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 17 Apr 2013, 11:57:21 EST by Vonne Carmichael on behalf of Centre for History of European Discourses