Theory and method in the work of Samuel Rawson Gardiner
Samuel Rawson Gardiner (1829-1902) has traditionally been viewed as a quintessential late Victorian historian. His subject was politics, his methods consisted of empirical research in the archives, he wrote the kind of dry narratives being propounded in the newly professionalised discipline, and his account of the past was coloured by his religious and political biases. Such characterisations are, however, very wide of the mark. They have been constructed from the study of the context of his life. Through a close reading of the full range of his texts, it is possible to deconstruct this dominant image and put in its place a very different account of his thought, his methods and his writing. Gardiner was influenced by German Idealist philosophy, and as a result his interests lay in intellectual currents, his methods of analysis rested on the Fichtean dialectical method coupled with a dedication to insights derived from empathy and the imagination, and he understood the power of literary representation.