Ages of Liberty
Social Upheaval, History
Writing, & the New Public
Sphere in Sweden, 1740-1792

By Peter Hallberg
December 2003
Stockholm University
ISBN: 91-7265-629-8
362 pages, 6 " x 9 "
$69.50 Paper Original

This book investigates how different social groups used history as a political instrument in Sweden during the second half of the eighteenth century (1740-1792). More specifically, it analyzes how representations of the past were used to influence behavior, advance and legitimize claims to power, mould opinion and forge collective identities. In addition to analyzing how historians conceived of the relationship between history writing and society, the study considers how three social groups or actors - commoners, nobles and King Gustavus III - used history during a time of intense social conflict. These questions are pursued within the context of competing efforts to describe society and the ways in which they were reformulated in the emerging public sphere. Combining textual analysis and diffusion studies, this dissertation examines both the meaning and the transmission of texts. The book sheds light on Enlightenment conceptions of society; the invention of democratic ideology; the early steps toward a language of class; the role of the audience in publishing; the concept of the public; and the emergence of a new political culture during a formative period in European history: the age of democratic revolutions.

Stockholm Studies in Politics No. 92

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