Presentism in Teaching History

We are delighted to present free-to-read articles from across the five article sections which are specially commissioned for Bloomsbury History: Theory and Method. These essays, which lend themselves to discussions of presentism in teaching history, will help you get to grips with classic texts in context, using primary sources, tackling key thinkers and concepts, and understanding historiography.

Watch the Authors Discuss their Articles and the Trend of Presentism

Watch six professional historians discuss presentism in teaching history in a webinar chaired by Associate Professor Tyson Retz. Drawing on their teaching experience as well as their recent exclusive articles in Bloomsbury History: Theory & Method, each historian discusses their article in turn, including how its subject matter lends itself to presentism, before turning to a panel discussion and Q&A about the overall trend of presentism in teaching.

This image shows Marx’s Capital by Terrell Carver, Image courtesy of Getty.
Marx’s Capital by Terrell Carver, Image courtesy of Getty.


Marx’s Capital by Terrell Carver

This comprehensive essay on Capital’s context, arguments, and enduring influence forms a compelling and accessible introduction to a difficult historical text, and gives students the tools to situate the work in the history of Marx’s thought and life.

This image shows Police Records by Nadine Rossol.Police Records by Nadine Rossol.


Police Records by Nadine Rossol

Police forces have never been a mirror of the society they are policing, but are more male, more conservative, and more hierarchical. Nadine Rossol discusses how historians can draw on awareness of these limitations when using police records as a historical source. She stresses the importance of police records for historians—particularly when studying authoritarian regimes in which opposition groups frequently destroy their own records—and guides the reader in how to approach the use of such sources.

This image shows Masculinity by Henk de Smaele, Adapted image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Masculinity by Henk de Smaele, adapted image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


Masculinity by Henk de Smaele

The concept of masculinity is relatively recent; it is hardly found before the middle of the twentieth century. This article tracks the concept’s increased usage in academic works since that period and looks at interpretations of both Western and non-Western masculinities.

This image shows Catherine Hall by Antoinette Burton, Image courtesy of UCL.Catherine Hall by Antoinette Burton, Image courtesy of UCL.


Catherine Hall by Antoinette Burton

Catherine Hall is the leading feminist historian of empire, race, gender, and the nation practicing in Britain today. This article from our Key Thinkers series explores Catherine Hall through the lens of her influences, impact, interpretations, and legacy.

This image shows The Historiography of Race in Enlightenment Thought.The Historiography of Race in Enlightenment Thought.


The Historiography of Race in Enlightenment Thought by Devin Vartija

In the historiography of Enlightenment thought before WW2, scholars paid little attention to race or racism in the era. However, starting with Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno in the 1940s, a strand of scholarship highlighted the Enlightenment’s role in the tradition of positing European superiority and justifying the subjugation of non-Europeans. This extended article thoughtfully covers the history of this scholarship and its importance today, before looking to its future.

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