Keith Jenkins and the heroic age of British postmodern theory

This piece offers a critical appraisal of Keith Jenkins' work over the last two decades, through the prism of my own personal engagement with his writing. It assesses how Re-thinking History (1991. London: Routledge) and his other works of the 1990s helped precipitate wide-ranging and tempestuous debates about the nature of historical knowledge that were unprecedented in the modern discipline of history in Britain (and beyond). It then traces how these debates developed into the 2000s, as Jenkins' own position hardened and the discipline absorbed the ‘postmodern’ challenge through partial incorporation, as evidenced inter alia by the emergence of new forms of theoretically-inflected cultural history. The impact of Jenkins' work on my own writing and teaching is discussed in an attempt to illuminate the broader collective experience of (parts of) a particular scholarly generation for which these titanic debates were a formative experience.