Announcing the Oxford History of Historical Writing

Although there are several encyclopedias and dictionaries of historical writing, and numerous compendia, there is no full-coverage scholarly survey of the history of historical writing across the globe. There are two recent encyclopedic works (Boyd Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing , Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999; and Woolf, A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing, Garland/Taylor and Francis, 1998) that go beyond the conventional Anglo-European accounts of historiography. Both however are low-circulation library reference books, and the scope and quality of the major essays are limited by the need to spend a significant amount of space on very short biographical entries. Other survey works tend to be highly Eurocentric. Exceptions include the now forty-year old series of collections of essays on various oriental and Asian area historiographies, published by OUP (SOAS 'Historical Writing on the Peoples of Asia' series, eg. Historians of China and Japan, eds. W. Beasley and E. Pulleyblank , 1961) and by Cornell University Press (eg Indonesian Historiography , ed. Soedjatmoko, 1965). These are useful but of course somewhat dated now, as are the more recent collections Southeast Asian History and Historiography: Essays presented to D.G.E. Hall (ed. C. Cowan and O. Wolters, 1976) and Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia (ed. A. Reid and D. Marr, 1979). There have also been recent suggestive efforts at cross-cultural historiographic comparison, most notably Turning Points in Historiography: a Cross-Cultural Perspective (ed. G. Iggers and Q.E. Wang, 2002); Across Cultural Borders: Historiography in Global Perspective (ed. E. Fuchs and B. Stuchtey, 2002); Western Historical Thinking: an Intercultural Debate (ed. J. Rüsen, 2002); and most recently, Historical Truth, Historical Criticism and Ideology: Chinese Historiography and Historical Culture from a New Comparative Perspective (ed. H. Schmidt-Glintzer, A Mittag and J. Rüsen, 2005). With considerably greater attention now being paid to non-Western traditions and their points of comparison with Western historiography, the time has come for a collaborative global history of historical writing.

The Oxford History of Historical Writing will be a five-volume multi-authored history of historical writing. It will not be an encyclopedia or dictionary and although selective individuals will receive chapter-length studies, there will be no short biographical entries (though the length of chapters will be variable depending on the topic). Rather, it will be a chronological history of humanity's attempts to conserve, recover and narrate its past. Each volume will be edited by an editor or team of co-editors who will work with the general editor to develop a chapter list and list of contributors. Each chapter will be assessed by editors, and written to OUP's exacting standards of scholarship.



General Editor

Daniel Woolf, Queen's University


Assistant Editor

Ian Hesketh, Queen's University


Advisory Board

Michael Aung-Thwin, University of Hawaii

Michael Bentley, University of St Andrews

Peter Burke, University of Cambridge

Toyin Falola, University of Texas

Georg G. Iggers, SUNY Buffalo

Donald R. Kelley, Rutgers University

Tarif Khalidi, American University , Beirut

Christina Kraus, Yale University

Chris Lorenz, Free University Amsterdam

Stuart Macintyre, University of Melbourne

Jürgen Osterhammel, Universitat Konstanz

Ilaria Porciani, University of Bologna

Jörn Rüsen, Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut

Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru University , Delhi


List of Contributors by Volume


Oxford University Press

Stephanie Ireland




The work will be divided into five volumes of approximately equal size, about 300,000 words each, for a total of 1.5 million words.

Each volume will cover a time period, defined by centuries so as to avoid privileging western periodization (Renaissance is meaningful in western Europe; it should, however, be no more significant than Ming, Mughal or Tokugawa as a period).

The intent will be to integrate national and regional topics with cross-cutting comparative chapters on certain themes (for instance, ideas of causation in history; or the relationship of the state to historical research and writing).

Volumes will cover progressively shorter chronological periods, reflecting both the greater geographical range of later volumes (Africa and Latin America , for instance, need minimal coverage in vols. I and II, more in vol. III, and much more in vols. IV and V) and the fact that historical activity globally has increased in a steep curve since the nineteenth century. Chapters are not yet indicated since it will be necessary for individual volume editors to have a free hand, within the general tenets of the series, to design and assign chapters within their own volumes. Individual volumes will consist of 15 to 20 chapters and run to no more than 500 printed pages. Each will be individually indexed.

•  Beginnings to AD 600

•  400-1400

•  1400-1800

•  1800-1945

•  Historical Writing since 1945

These boundaries will of course be markers, not walls; centuries are as arbitrary as period tags like "Middle Ages" or "Romantic era", but have a broader and less ambiguous meaning. Within these markers, however, period terms can be used as appropriate, for instance, essays on Chinese historical writing will have to adhere closely to the dynastic principles according to which historical writing was organized.

The website will be updated as volume contents and authors are approved over the next year and a half. An editorial meeting will occur at the meeting of the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Sydney in July 2005; a plenary author/editor conference is planned for late 2007 at which draft chapters can be discussed in comparative and regional sessions.



D. Woolf "Historiography" An article on the history of history globally, for New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, ed. M.C. Horowitz, vol. 1 (New York, 2005).



The principal planning and editorial work of each volume will be done by an executive team of volume editors or co-editors in consultation with the general editor. The actual editorial work of individual volumes will be done by each volume editor but with submissions and book-keeping centralized at the project main office in the Department of History and Classics, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta . With the advice of the general editor and advisory board, editors will design their own volumes and identify chapter authors, who will be appointed by letter from Oxford University Press following volume approval by the Delegates.

Volume 1 Editors

Andrew Feldherr
Department of Classics, Princeton University

Grant Hardy
Department of History, University of North Carolina at Asheville

Volume 2 Editors

Sarah Foot
Christ Church, University of Oxford

Chase F. Robinson
Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford

Volume 3 Editors

José Rabasa
Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California Berkeley

Masayuki Sato
Department of Social Science Education, University of Yamanashi, Japan

Edoardo Tortarolo
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale
"Amedeo Avogadro", Italy

Daniel Woolf
Department of History, Queen's University

Volume 4 Editors

Attila Pók
Institute of History, Hungarian Academy of Social Sciences

Stuart Macintyre
Department of History, University of Melbourne

Juan Maiguashca
Department of History, York University

Volume 5 Editors

Axel Schneider
Sinological Institute, Leiden University

Daniel Woolf
Department of History, Queen's University






For more information please contact the project office at

Funding, administrative support, and project space for the Oxford History of Historical Writing has been provided by the University of Alberta from 2005-2009 and by Queen's University from 2009-.



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