How long is a century?

Something for us (and my colleagues’ new long 18th-century course students) to chew over: a great thread in the last couple of days at C18-L on centuries starts here on the long 18th century before moving onto the long 17th century… with nods to the 16th.

(And it looks set to continue into October. I get the impression that you can’t follow a thread in the archives from one month to the next, but I might be wrong.)

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4 Responses to How long is a century?

  1. T. J. Fallon says:

    What is the origin of ‘long’ centuries 18th, 19th,etc? Is
    it just a literary or historical convenience or does it have more substance maybe derived from Bruaudel and the
    Annales school in France?

  2. Sharon says:

    Not sure; it may have come up in the C18-L thread I linked, but I don’t remember now. A quick look on JSTOR suggests that ‘the long eighteenth century’ started coming into use in the 1980s – there are not many examples from the decade (but substantially more than pre-1980) and they tend to have ‘long’ in quotation marks, implying that it was still quite unfamiliar. That timing may well suggest some Annales-type influence, but I’d have to take a closer look than I have time for to get a sense of where it’s coming from…

  3. David Harley says:

    The 20th century seemed rather short. World War One to 9/11?

  4. Sharon says:

    Didn’t Hobsbawm (or somebody along those lines) have a ‘short 20th century’ of 1914-1989?

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