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Title: The illusion of finality : time and community in the writings of E.A. Freeman, J.B. Bury and the English-Teutonic circle of historians
Author: Steinberg, Oded Yair
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 7038
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis aims to show, how periodization and race converged vigorously during the nineteenth century. The research focuses mainly on the question of how nineteenth century historians viewed the transformation from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. For many scholars, the year 476 A.D. became associated with the fall of Rome. During the nineteenth century, historians elaborated two main arguments: 1) 'The Roman' emphasized the decline that had occurred after the fall of Rome. 2) 'The Teutonic' signified the rejuvenation which the German tribes had brought about in the decaying Empire. Although I relate to the 'Roman' argument, the heart of the discussion is devoted to the 'Teutonic' school that was supported not only by German but also by British or more accurately English historians. The first part of the dissertation is devoted to the theme of 'Community and Race'. In this part, I engage with the thematic question of how the historians of the second half of the nineteenth century constructed past and present communities through the concept of race. A close community or Gemeinschaft of English and German historians emerged during the middle of the nineteenth century. Based on the concept of Teutonic kinship, this community emphasized the notions of race and historical time, which actually invented a new sense of belonging. The English and the Germans were one, an almost indivisible community founded on a purported notion of race. Despite several national or particularistic inclinations, these nations had a common Teutonic past, which always bonded them together. Therefore, the historians 'imagined' a new ultimate transnational (racial) community of belonging. In the second part I study the theme of 'Time'. The linkage between the two parts is embedded in the idea of the Community as a 'Time Maker'. Namely, in what manner does the construction of a community by the historians defines the division of time. The chapter that links the two themes of 'Community' and 'Time' examines the writings of scholars in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who underlined the Germanic invasions of the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. as the events that symbolized the fall of Rome and the end of Antiquity. This governing observation is connected directly with the racial Teutonic feelings that were prevalent among English and German historians. The discussion of it set the framework for the following chapters, which delve into the distinct periodization's of Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-92) and John Bagnell Bury (1861-1927). These historians, who were in constant and close contact until the death of Freeman in 1892, reveal similarities as well as major differences in their historical writings. The main reason why they were chosen derives from the new periodization which they had adopted. Both of them devised a method that signified a departure from the accepted and almost 'sacred' division between Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Supervisor: Zimmer, Oliver Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Historians--19th century ; Germany--History--Historiography ; Great Britain--History--Historiography ; Germanic peoples--History--Sources ; Intellectual life--History--19th century