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This seminar provides an opportunity for students to reflect on the question posed by Roger Smith: ‘Of what is history of psychology a subject?’ It also provides an opportunity to reflect on the potential significance of a history of psychology broadly conceived for understanding aspects of twentieth-century British history. To what extent, as Nikolas Rose suggests, can this open up a history of the ‘assembling of the modern self’. Finally, it acts as an introductory meeting to discuss sources, aims, and expectations of the module.


Bunn, G., Lovie, A. & Richards, G., Psychology in Britain: Historical Essays and Personal Reflections (2001).

Danziger, Kurt, Constructing the Subject: Historical Origins of Psychological Research (1990).

Hearnshaw, Leslie, A Short History of British Psychology, 1840-1940 (1964).

Kuklick, H., The Savage Within: The Social History of British Anthropology, 1885-1945 (1991).

Pfister, J. and Schnog, N. (eds.), Inventing the Psychological: Toward a Cultural History of Emotional Life in America (1997)

Richards, Graham, ‘Of What is History of Psychology a History?’ British Journal of the History of Science, 20 (1987), 201-11.

Rose, Nikolas, The Psychological Complex: Psychology, Politics and Society in England, 1869-1939 (1985), pp. 1-10.

Smith, Roger, ‘Does the History of Psychology have a Subject?’, History of the Human Sciences, 1 (1988), 147-77.

Soffer, Reba, Ethics and Society in England: The Revolution in the Social Sciences 1870-1914 (1978).

Thomson, ‘Reframing the Discipline’, Psychological Subjects, pp. 54-75.

Thomson, Mathew, ‘The Popular, the Practical, and the Professional: Psychological Identities in Britain, 1901-1950’, in G. Bunn et al (eds.), Psychology in Britain, pp. 115-32.

Identity/The Self/Emotions

Giddens, Anthony, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (1991).

Hacking, Ian, ‘Making up People’, in T.C. Heller et al (eds.), Reconstructing Individualism (1986).

Hacking, Ian, Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory (1995).

Roper, Michael, ‘Between Manliness and Masculinity: The War Generation and the Psychology of Fear in Britain, 1914-1950’, Journal of British Studies, 44 (2005).

Roper, Michael, ‘Slipping out of View: Subjectivity and Emotion in Gender History’, History Workshop Journal, 59 (2005).

Rose, Nikolas, ‘Assembling the Modern Self’, in Roy Porter (ed.), Rewriting the Self: Histories from the Renaissance to the Present (1997).

Rose, Nikolas, Inventing Our Selves: Psychology, Power and Personhood (1986)

Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self: The Making of Modern Identity (1989).

Wahrman, Dror, The Making of the Modern Self: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century England (2004).