By Carolyn Steedman


Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6015-1
  • Pages: 208
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £9.99
  • Published Date: January 2002
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Historiography, Humanities / Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Historiography, HISTORY / Social History, History, Modern History, History
  • Series: Encounters: Cultural Histories


In this witty, engaging and challenging book, Carolyn Steedman has produced a highly original and sometimes irreverent investigation into the development of modern history writing. Dust is about the practice and writing of history. Dust considers the immutable, stubborn set of beliefs about the material world, past and present, inherited from the nineteenth century, with which modern history writing attempts to grapple. Drawing on over five years worth of her own published and unpublished writing, the author has produced a sustained argument about the way in which history writing belongs to the currents of thought shaping the modern world.

Steedman begins by looking at the attention paid to the archive by those working in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, what has become known as the practice of 'archivisation'. By definition, the archive is the repository of 'that which will not go away', and the book goes on to suggest that, just like dust, the 'matter of history' can never go away or be erased.

Historians who want to think about what it is they do will find this work enlightening, and this book is essential reading for all undergraduates and postgraduates studying historiography, and history and theory.


1. In the Archon's house
2. 'Something she called a fever'
3. The magistrates
4. The space of memory: In an archive
5. Middlemarch: Without benefit of archive
6. What a rag rug means
7. On how the end is different from an ending
8. The story of Dust


Carolyn Steedman is Professor of History at the University of Warwick

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