Rethinking ‘disciplinary’ history: geography in British universities, c. 1580–1887



Against a background of recent work in the history of geography and of geographical knowledge, the paper considers evidence for the place of geography within British universities before the formal establishment of the first departments of geography. Attention is paid to geography’s discursive connections with other subjects within given university curricula, and to the values placed upon its teaching by contemporaries. The paper argues that extant historiographies for British geography should be revised in the light of such evidence. More importantly, the paper raises questions about the sites and intellectual spaces in which geography has been situated and about the content, nature and purpose of writing geography’s ‘disciplinary’ history.