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History, Heritage & Memory

30 Credits

This unit will have two components: Historiography and Public History, Heritage and Memory.

i) Historiography
This will introduce students to the history of historical writing, examining: eighteenth-century Enlightenment history from Vico to Adam Smith, the influence of the major nineteenth century figures Hegel and Marx, twentieth-century writers and movements such as Oakeshott, Skocpol, Skinner, and Foucault, the challenge of sociology (as represented by Durkheim and Weber) and genealogy.

The unit will consider different sorts of history: political, intellectual, cultural, social and economic, and will specifically examine the challenge of using particular types of historical evidence (such as oral history and social memories), as well as the writing of different types of history, including the history of gender, of empires and of revolutions. It will also explicitly address the challenges and opportunities that the historian faces when writing comparative history.

ii) Public History, Heritage and Memory
Public history is history in the public sphere, whether in museums and galleries, heritage sites and historic houses, radio and television broadcasting, film, popular history books, social media, or public policy within government. The central challenge and task of public history is making history relevant and accessible to people outside academia, whilst adhering to an academically credible historical method.

This part of the unit will explore the theory and practice of public history in heritage, broadcasting, publication and policy, asking questions such as, how is the past used? what is authenticity? must public – or popular – history mean ‘dumbing down’? can we satisfy the public’s curiosity about the past in a way that also satisfies us as historians?

We will consider historical controversies, the abuse of the past, and the ethics of misrepresenting the past.