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Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text




The years 1760–1820 mark a turning point in the history of historiography. Methods for studying the past changed rapidly during this period, as did the forms in which historical knowledge was displayed. Hume famously called these years ‘the historical age’, while Foucault’s Order of Things contends that an epistemic shift from ‘order’ to ‘history’ took place around the year 1800. The historical novel, possibly the most important generic innovation of Romantic-era fiction, is also the most important and underexplored historiographic innovation of these years. Its importance has not often been recognised, however, since, following the nineteenth-century establishment of an autonomous realm of art and the professionalisation of historiography, history and fiction came to appear more and more distinct and their earlier connections forgotten. The novel has come to be studied as a linguistically complex work of the imagination, using the techniques of close reading to uncover its hidden meanings, while works of historiography have more often been studied for the ideas they express than their means of expression.


Historical linguistics; Historiography; History--Research--Methodology


History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America | Literature in English, British Isles




This article is copyright © 2001 Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the result of the independent labour of the scholar or scholars credited with authorship. The material contained in this document may be freely distributed, as long as the origin of information used has been properly credited in the appropriate manner (e.g. through bibliographic citation, etc.).

Publisher Citation

A. H. STEVENS. ‘Tales of Other Times: A Survey of British Historical Fiction, 1770–1812’, Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 7 (Dec 2001).

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