Scholarship

Ye Machine is a place for me to present my ongoing scholarship.

My publications and some of my blog posts present various facets of my ongoing attempt to map some of the main currents of English scholarship between around 1870 and 1930.

Behind this endeavour stands a conviction that the writings of late-Victorian and Edwardian scholars offer long-forgotten but still valuable perspectives upon the modern world. Their perspectives are important to us today in part because their intellectual horizons were not yet blinkered by disciplinary specialization nor eclipsed by those all-encompassing social theories imported from the Continent in the 1930s but today largely rejected.

Today it seems impossible to reflect upon the human condition without engaging with a recent European history that includes two world wars and the threat of nuclear Armageddon. But holocaust is not the whole of our heritage; and intellectuals were not always like rabbits caught in the glare of the traumas of world history. Fascinating insights were discovered – and then lost sight of – in the decades before the Great War; insights that are no doubt partial, flawed or even misconceived, but still able for all that to challenge and illuminate our current ideas and identities.

This work is in a process of continual development. My underlying aim, which is behind the constant revisions and additions, is to connect the dots, as it were, so that the route from Marshall’s economics to Tolkien’s Middle-earth becomes clearly visible as one of several paths through the woods, beaten down by the scholars of a bygone era, now covered over by fallen leaves and, by and large, quite forgotten.