The Wallace K. Ferguson Prize
John R. Hinde, Jacob Burckhardt and the Crisis of Modernity. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000.
This work by an historian who already has a deserved reputation stands out from a great number of studies that have been done for over a century of the great Swiss historian whose bibliography is very well known. John Hinde’s book is an intellectual history which highlights aspects of Burckhardt’s life and thought which had been either neglected or forgotten. It is, moreover, the first work in English entirely devoted to the man and his uvre. Hinde set out to study the confrontation between history and modernity, as it unfolded during Burckhardt’s life, and the role that it played in the development of his concept of history and historiography. From the beginning, and in keeping with the many remarks set forth by the great German historian Meinecke and which drew little attention from historians, Hinde tries to show the key role the city of Basel played in the areas of politics, religion, thought and society in Burckhardt’s training, way of feeling and seeing and his judgement, which permeate all his works. Although certainly a proud citizen of Basel, Burckhardt was not an intellectual isolated in his own world, and showed himself more open to outside influences than many contemporary renowned German historians. He constantly confronted his deeply conservative ideas and his vision of modernity through his works on intellectual history and that on art. In this work, Hinde shows his superb mastery of his subject, and his deep knowledge of Burckhardt, as well as of the immense bibliography devoted to him, a great part of which is in German. This new vision, stimulating and original, ensures a new direction for future works devoted to the great Swiss historian. The work stands out because of the elegance of the language — studied but never pedantic — the constant care for the rigour of argumentation, and generalizations which are always fully substantiated. Without any doubt, this is a major book in Canadian historiography.
William J. Callahan, The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875-1998. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2000.
The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875-1998 is a continuation of William J. Callahan’s earlier book, Church, Politics and Society in Spain 1750-1874 (1984), which won the Ferguson Prize for that year. This new book is a monumental work and has been greeted by reviewers as the fundamental study of the Catholic church in twentieth-century Spain. It traces the process by which the established church struggled to maintain its position in a society which, over the course of more than a century of turbulent political change and turmoil experienced liberalism, republicanism, socialism, anarchism and intellectual pluralism. As the church attempted to retain its position at the centre of national life it also gradually modernised its strategy by creating trade unions, an undated school system and a modern press. The alliance of church and state under Franco, though frequently troubled, finally broke down in the 1960s. The unavoidable need to adapt to a new age after the death of Franco in 1975 led to the church’s astonishing transformation and its acceptance of democracy. Callahan’s book is based on research of extraordinary depth and breadth, and touches on every aspect of the institutional life of the church, while at the same time it surveys Spain’s political, social, economic and intellectual history from the restoration of the Bourbons to the present day. Although massive, the book reads easily and handles highly controversial issues sensitively and judiciously. The Committee felt that this was possibly the definitive study of its subject, unlikely to be equalled in the near future.
Wayne Dowler, Classroom and Empire: The Politics of Schooling Russia’s Eastern Nationalities, 1860-1917. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2000.
Wayne Dowler’s Classroom and Empire sheds important light on late nineteenth-century efforts by the Russian state to educate and assimilate peoples from the eastern borderlands. As the Russian empire moved into the modern era, authorities were faced with the task of achieving literacy among peoples of different ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Dowler’s work examines the debate over the schooling of non-Russians, focusing especially on the Il’Minskii pedagogical method. Il’Minski advocated education in the students’ native tongue but encouraged russification through a curriculum that placed strong emphasis on the reading and writing of Christian religious texts. Dowler succeeds in delineating clearly the Il’Minskii method and its advantages and drawbacks. He is equally successful in demonstrating the concerns of Il’Minskii’s critics, who drew attention to the relationship between language and the perpetuation of national consciousness and who believed that all students should be educated in the Russian language. Dowler makes effective use of State Education papers and Il’Minskii’s published work and correspondence as well as that of followers of the Il’Minskii method to produce a lucid and compelling analysis of the politics of schooling and languages during this pivotal period in Russian history. Even readers who are unfamiliar with nineteenth-century Russian pedagogical methods will become engrossed in a work that is clearly and engagingly written. The book situates the schooling debate within the larger imperial context and affords critical insights into the relationship between language and national identity that are as relevant in today’s increasingly global society as they are for our understanding of Russian imperial efforts of the late nineteenth century.