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The Irrelevance of Revisionism: Gender, Politics, and Society in Early Modern England

Abstract

Revisionism’s rise to prominence in the 1970s coincided with the emergence of feminist history. Yet the two shared little, and revisionism’s insistence on the autonomy of politics was at odds with the feminist analysis of power and politics in household and community relations; as feminist historians sought to expand the conception of the political, revisionists sought to narrow it. Yet revisionism had much in common with a strain of social history that focused on the particular and local as against broad narratives of change, and emphasized stability and consensus rather than conflict. However, both the social and political history of early modern England have to be able to account for the conflict that emerged in the mid-seventeenth century. This essay shows how gender, and particularly gendered inversion, provides a way to pull together social, political and gender history.

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