The Tyranny of the Discrete: A Discussion of the Problems of Local History in England

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9781859282908: The Tyranny of the Discrete: A Discussion of the Problems of Local History in England
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This book argues that in the work of trained historians, as well as amateurs, English local history is weakened by a pervasive antiquarianism: an obsession with detail as opposed to substance. It examines such antiquarianism and shows it to be educationally damaging and wasteful of resources. The author examines the development of the main concepts in local history, and shows the importance of comparative and regional study, pursued through an ongoing and developing debate. He condemns the use of local history merely as a ’quarry’, and suggests that local residents, societies and followers of family history can be brought together in the study of a new form of people’s history - one which reflects the life experiences of the people concerned, and only then moves back into other, less familiar periods.

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Review:

'Many superb ideas are distilled here...The strength of Marshall's discussion is its educational focus, civic concern and review of the literature. His critique of a pervasive and primitive antiquarianism is incisive and balanced.' Journal of Rural History, Vol 9, No. 1 'Over the past forty years John Marshall's contribution to the debates in English local history has been immense...Marshall's perspective is remarkably refreshing and English local historians of whatever inclination must be immensely indebted to him..This book is..neither a cosy nor an easy read. It is iconoclastic, but it is also reflective, and it is important.' Albion, Vol. 30, No. 2

Synopsis:

This work argues that, in the work of trained historians (and amateurs), English local history is weakened by a pervasive antiquarianism. It shows that this can be educationally damaging and also a waste of resources, going on to recommend comparative and regional studies, fuelled by debate.

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