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Apr 30, 2012

Arnold Toynbee's Oxford lectures on the 'Industrial Revolution' were once thought to have been responsible for coining and diffusing an idea that has remained essential to students of British history since the lectures were posthumously published in 1882. Toynbee has also been credited with transmitting an interpretation of the revolution that became known, in the words of E. P. Thompson, as 'classical catastrophic orthodoxy'. In this lecture, Donald Winch re-examines Toynbee's role as historian of catastrophe and his remedies for dealing with its consequences with the aim of establishing the nineteenth-century political, moral, and intellectual context within which his interpretation of the industrial revolution can best be understood.