J. C. D. Clark

J. C. D. Clark

Jonathan Charles Douglas Clark (born 28 February, 1951) is a British historian of British history and American history. He currently serves as the Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of British History at the University of Kansas.


Clark began as a leading revisionist historian of seventeenth- and eighteenth century British history. He is notable for arguing against both the Marxist and Whiggish interpretations of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Instead, Clark emphasizes the unities and coherences of the period between 1660 and 1832. It was he who dubbed it the “long eighteenth century”, a periodisation which is now widely accepted in historical academia. [Clark, "English Society", p. x, where he also acknowledges that his "programmatic idea" had its "precursor" in Betty Kemp, "King and Commons 1660-1832" (London: Macmillan, 1957;1984).] Clark maintains the period was one of Anglican-aristocratic hegemony, marked by popular acceptance of the monarchy and the Church of England as symbols of national unity. This edifice was characterized by the dominance of an aristocratic-gentry oligarchy and a sense of national identity (preceding 19th century nationalism), that was firmly underpinned by a shared history and religious allegiance. In Clark’s model, Britons embraced the official entrenchment of these parameters, despite the occasional outcropping of religious dissent.

Clark has also framed an explanation of the American Revolution as, in part, a "war of religion", triggered by the denominational conflicts still endemic at that time within the English-speaking North Atlantic world. [Clark, "Language of Liberty", p. 304.]

Clark has often maintained that too often the eighteenth century has been reinterpreted in the light of the nineteenth; he sees his mission as an historian to explain the long eighteenth century in its own terms. Clark criticised earlier British historians, especially Marxists such as Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Thompson.

He is now primarily interested in the history of religion, and his chief achievement is the reintroduction of a religious dimension into the agendas formerly set by positivist, functionalist and reductionist historians.


Major publications

*"The Dynamics of Change : the Crisis of the 1750s and English Party Systems", (Cambridge: 1982) ISBN 0-521-23830-7.
*"English Society, 1688-1832 : Ideology, Social Structure, and Political Practice during the Ancien Régime", (Cambridge: 1985) ISBN 0-521-30922-0; 2nd (revised) ed., "English Society 1660-1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics during the Ancien Régime", (Cambridge: 2000) ISBN 0-521-66180-3. cited as 'Clark, "English Society".'
*"Revolution and Rebellion : State and Society in England in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries", (Cambridge: 1986) ISBN 0-521-33063-7.
*"The Memoirs and Speeches of James, 2nd Earl Waldegrave, 1742-1763", ed., (Cambridge: 1988) ISBN 0-521-36111-7.
*"Ideas and Politics in Modern Britain", ed., (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990) ISBN 0-333-51551-X.
*"The Language Of Liberty, 1660-1832 : Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World", (Cambridge: 1994) ISBN 0-521-44957-X. cited as 'Clark, "Language of Liberty".'
*"Samuel Johnson : Literature, Religion, and English Cultural Politics from the Restoration to Romanticism", (Cambridge:1994) ISBN 0-521-47304-7.
*"Samuel Johnson in Historical Context", eds. Clark; Howard Erskine-Hill, (New York: Palgrave, 2002) ISBN 0-333-80447-3.
* "Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France. A Critical Edition", ed., (Stanford: 2001) ISBN 0-8047-3923-4.
*"Our Shadowed Present: Modernism, Postmodernism and History", (London: Atlantic Books, 2003) ISBN 1-84354-122-X.

Further reading

*Pocock, J.G.A., "1660 and All That: Whig-Hunting, Ideology and Historiography in the Work of Jonathan [J.C.D.] Clark," "Cambridge Review" 108,2(Oct. 1987), 125-128.

External links

* [http://www.hallcenter.ku.edu/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/hallcntr/facultyDevelopment/distinguishedProfessors/detailed.php?id=148 J.C.D. Clark] .
* [http://cogweb.ucla.edu/EarlyModern/EnglishSociety_00.html Review of "English Society 1660-1832: Religion, Ideology and Politics during the Ancien Régime"] .
* [http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/reapp/frank.html Reappraisals in History: "English Society 1688-1832: Ideology, Social Structure and Political Practice During the Ancien Régime"] .
* [http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000307.php Review of "Our Shadowed Present: Modernism, Postmodernism and History"] .

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