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Title: Contention and innovation : the medieval period in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Irish historiography
Author: Cullen, Ruairí Woolf
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 0666
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis fills in the gap in modern Irish historiography that exists between the late nineteenth century and the 1930s. This is investigated through a number of case studies concerning historians and institutions and their relationship with the study of medieval Ireland, broadly defined from 400 to 1500. Research themes focus on the problematic professionalisation of history in Ireland, the representation of the island's medieval past and the development of the case for a more serious academic approach to the period. This thesis contributes to recent developments in historiographical studies by examining history and the 'national' question, as well as identifying some of its distinctive features such as the importance of continental Celtic philology. A broad range of influential and innovative historians are considered in order to move beyond a previous concentration upon secular nationalists. To this end, ecclesiastical historians and those from a unionist perspective play a prominent role. Alongside examination of historical publications, new archival evidence is brought to bear in order to shed new light on the personalities and networks of the historians considered. It is revealed that the turn of the twentieth century witnessed a shift away from the prevalence of polemical sectarian and politicised histories and towards a greater emphasis on primary sources and the production of critical source editions. At the same time, the medieval Irish past grew in academic stature and by the early part of the twentieth-century had a firmer place in Irish universities. However, there was no straightforward march to 'progress'. The island's handful of professional historians were disunited and standards varied. Religion and politics remained powerful interpretative forces. Debate emerged surrounding the value of particular source material and the role of personal bias in modern 'scientific' history. These questions continue to resurface in Irish historical studies today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available