Dr Joshua Bennett

Walter Dingwall Junior Research Fellow


BA History (Oxford, 2010); MSt Modern British and European History (Oxford, 2011); DPhil (Oxford, 2015)

Academic Background

Undergraduate and graduate degrees at Christ Church, Oxford, 2007-2015; Scouloudi Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, London, 2014-2015; Lecturer in History at St John’s College, Oxford, 2015-2016; Walter Dingwall Junior Research Fellow in History at Christ Church, Oxford, since 2016.

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught outline papers covering British history since 1800 and General (European/world) history from 1700 to 1945; a first-year Optional Subject on the French Revolution; a second-year Further Subject on Victorian intellectual history; and first-year and finals papers on historiography and historical methodology. I have also supervised undergraduate theses, and taught graduate classes in historical theory and methods.

Research Interests

I work on the intellectual and religious history of nineteenth- and earlier-twentieth-century Britain, which I study in European and Atlantic contexts. My first book, God and Progress: Religion and History in British Intellectual Culture, 1845-1914, explores the religious and irreligious dimensions of Victorian historical thought. It argues that, for a contemporary intellectual mainstream drawn towards providential, biblical, and German Idealist interpretations of history, ideas of progress became integrally linked to different understandings of religious improvement: a view of liberal modernity which radically secular critics were concerned to challenge. In my second book, I want to write a study of the dawn of modern social thought, which situates British intellectual history in comparative and transnational contexts embracing the United States and Western Europe between approximately 1870 and 1939. I am interested in the question of why secular-minded progressives combatively worked to reshape social, ethical, and international norms by elevating social theory and social science into new sources of cultural authority, in an environment in which religious and metaphysical ideas remained powerful.           


God and progress: religion and history in British intellectual culture, 1845-1914 (Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2019) [ISBN 9780198837725] 

‘Historicism and the human sciences in Victorian Britain, ed. Mark Bevir’, English Historical Review, 133:565 (2018), pp. 1640-2 [Book review]    

‘A history of “rationalism” in Victorian Britain’, Modern Intellectual History, 15:1 (2018), pp. 63-91   

‘The Age of Athanasius: the Church of England and the Athanasian Creed, 1870-1873’, Church History and Religious Culture, 97:2 (2017), pp. 220-47  

‘The British Luther Commemoration of 1883-1884 in European context’, Historical Journal, 58:2 (2015), pp. 543-64

The Victorian high church and the era of the Great Rebellion (Davenant Press: Oxford, 2011)