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The Betty Behrens Seminar on Classics of Historiography

Date: Thursday 16 February – Thursday 9 March 2023, 2pm
Location: Clare Hall, Herschel Road, Cambridge CB3 9AL
Booking: via Eventbrite

The Betty Behrens Seminar on Classics of Historiography offers a unique opportunity for students and scholars to reflect on some great historical works and engage in discussion with renowned experts.


16 February 2023 – Timothy Rood (University of Oxford), Xenophon’s Anabasis (IV c. BC).

23 February 2023 – David Wootton (University of York), Voltaire’s Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751). French version.

2 March 2023 – George Garnett (University of Oxford), Eadmer’s Historia novorum in Anglia (c. 1115) Latin version.

9 March 2023 – Sir Richard J. Evans (University of Cambridge), Eric Hobsbawm’s The Age of Revolution: Europe: 1789–1848 (1962), The Age of Capital: 1848–1875 (1975), The Age of Empire: 1875–1914 (1987). 

Further details:

As we know, a classic is recognised as such insofar as it retains its value as an intellectual and cognitive tool, helping us to gain an understanding of the past as well as the present from a particular cultural viewpoint. Classics still have the capacity to resonate and speak to us about current problems. They produce perspectives that are implicitly comparative and dynamic, thanks to the historical dimension passing through both them and us. These considerations are even more relevant when we speak about the classics of historiography because the same historical dimension is present on several more levels. These classics challenge us to contemplate some historical problems, which are only fully understood when properly contextualised. In the same way, even the classic itself can fruitfully produce its own intellectually provocative value only when it is read through the eyes of the present but interpreted with a historicist approach. This seminar series will endeavour to underline the importance of the classics of historiography for their relevant intellectual function in creating critical political thought.

The seminar series will take place between 16 February and 9 March and is composed of four weekly meetings. The charming and fresh atmosphere of the Richard Eden Suite at Clare Hall, West Court, Cambridge, will be the location for the discussions. Each meeting is two-hours long: the guest speaker will introduce the classic by talking for half an hour; after that, each participant will briefly express their understanding of the work by addressing some questions to the other participants and the guest speaker. In order to be ready for the dialogue, everyone is asked to read about fifty pages of the work under scrutiny, which will be published on this webpage shortly.

Before each seminar meeting, the Clare Hall dining hall will be available for lunch. After each event, participants will enjoy a further informal exchange of viewpoints over a glass of juice or wine.

There are only twelve posts available to guarantee the close dynamics of the discussion and the full involvement of participants. Those interested can apply for even just one meeting – however, preference will be given to those who sign up for all four meetings. In addition, there will be space for a good number of auditors who will not actively participate.

To attend the seminar either as a participant or as an auditor, please register via:

For any queries please contact Professor Davide Cadeddu, who is convening this seminar series, via

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