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Liam Stowell

Thesis: The classical world and the concept of civilisation in British thought, 1919-39.

My thesis examines the relationship between interpretations of the classical world and the concept of civilisation in interwar British political and international thought. It is primarily a history of the ideas of four intellectuals who were both ancient historians and variously engaged in international politics, R.G. Collingwood, Gilbert Murray, Arnold J. Toynbee and Alfred Zimmern. This thesis involves an inter-textual and philological analysis of their writings on the classical world, international theory, philosophy of history and contemporary political affairs in order to address imbalances in prevailing interpretations of their thought and establish a greater understanding of how the concept of civilisation was interpreted. My thesis contends that interwar British social, political and cultural thought cannot be properly understood without directly addressing the concept of civilisation. Civilisation was the essential lens through which people envisaged contemporary political and international affairs as well as the wider experience of modernity.


  • Professor Stuart Jones
  • Dr Andrew Fear

Research interests

British and European political, social and cultural thought, 1890-1945 | British historiography | Interwar internationalism  

Funding awards

Faculty of Humanities, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures Graduate Scholarship, 2016

Additional information

I completed my BA in History at the University of Leeds in 2013, where I focused mainly on medieval exploration and the Crusades. I completed an MPhil in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge in June 2016. My research looked at interpretations of ancient Rome in British historiography, philosophy and political thought, looking particularly at J.B. Bury, R.G. Collingwood, and Francis Haverfield and the Italian historian Guglielmo Ferrero.

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