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 in History 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 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; given undergraduate lectures for the Oxford History Faculty on nineteenth-century British history and historical methodology; 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. Challenging anachronistically secular readings of nineteenth-century British intellectual history, 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. This was a view of liberal modernity which radically secular critics were concerned to challenge. I am currently working on a second book which will offer a history of liberal ideas at the dawn of modern social thought, situated within a comparative and transnational context embracing Britain, Western Europe, and the United States between approximately 1870 and 1930. I am interested in the question of why secular-minded progressives turned to social theory and social science in order to reshape social, ethical, and international norms, in an environment in which religious and metaphysical ideas remained powerful. In addition to these areas of research, I am also a member of the Programme Committee of the interdisciplinary Oxford Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities.              



God and progress: religion and history in British intellectual culture, 1845-1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), 311 pp.  

The Victorian high church and the era of the Great Rebellion (Oxford: Davenant Press, 2011), 44 pp.


‘August Neander and the religion of history in the nineteenth-century “priesthood of letters”’, Historical Journal [accepted for publication, forthcoming]

‘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


‘Interpretation and theology’, in Scott McLaren (ed.), A cultural history of the Bible in the age of Empire, 1820-1920 [Bloomsbury, forthcoming]     

‘Victorian enterprise’, (introduction to) Robert Ingle, Thomas Cook of Leicester, new edn (Oxford: Davenant Press, 2019) [in press]


‘Exporting the Rapture: John Nelson Darby and the Victorian conquest of North-American evangelicalism, by D.H. Akenson’, Journal of British Studies, 58:3 (2019), pp. 635-7  

‘Victorian Jesus, by I. Hesketh’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 70:2 (2019), pp. 420-1
‘Historicism and the human sciences in Victorian Britain, ed. Mark Bevir’, English Historical Review, 133:565 (2018), pp. 1640-2