There is something rotten in the university. We feel it, and we know it from simple statistics. It is the statistics on the gender pay gap. It is the collapse in numbers of mature students in higher education. It is student mental health and suicide rates. It is staff being told year after year […]Read more "Solidarity is a Feeling"
The USS pension deficit is not the problem. The occult workings of UUK are the problem. Universities UK (UUK) exists in a realm that floats high above the firmament of the University. Even the most proactive staff and students, those who labour to understand the workings of the deans, pro-vice-chancellors, beadles, and archangels of their […]Read more "Who are UUK anyway?"
Historical arguments are structured like stories. This is true even for complex historiographical interventions. If you look at an academic piece that you consider historiographically innovative or important, you will find that these are often built with the structural blocks that creative writers use in plotting. For instance, creative writers often talk of the importance […]Read more "The Turn"
The Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins is very upset that the latest Hollywood take on Winston Churchill has him chatting to Londoners on the Tube. This is frustrating, Jenkins suggests, because it is an unnecessary falsification of the past. Jenkins is not a complete purist: he recognises the value of clearly fictionalised historical fictions, preferring television […]Read more "Why the Truth Is an Insufficient Ideal"
What suspense can there be in historical writing, given that the past is already settled? Plenty. History is never settled, which is why societies will always need historians. Even when the reader knows what the eventual outcome of events will be, historians inject suspense by pursuing their preferred questions: how and why. This is one […]Read more "Keep Your Reader Hungry"
Higher education is expensive. It is more expensive, in fact, than many people realize, because many of the costs of higher education originate with a set of activities that are not well understood by outsiders. ‘Teaching’ in its strictest sense is only one part of these costs. The most obvious other costs include ‘research’ and […]Read more "Value Judgements"
Historians produce imaginative fictions that convey truths about the past. I think we all know this. We might not reflect on it very often, but most academic historians will have read Hayden White or Keith Jenkins. Like a stone in your shoe, you carry with you a sense of this, which is irritating. You might […]Read more "The Historical Imagination"