University of Bristol, Friday 5th July 2019
What can very short histories do?
As a genre of writing, history does not obviously lend itself to brevity. The evidence to be addressed is extensive, stories require space to unfold, and the past is difficult. For many forms of history, the greatest sin is omission.
But historians and heritage professionals have always written in short genres, such as abstracts, catalogue notes, labels, popular journalism, biographical summaries, and funding applications. Academic journals such as History Workshop Journalinclude shorter pieces as ‘Critique’, ‘Archives and Sources’, and ‘Work in Progress’. More recently, history of many different kinds thrives on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and blogging. Online historical projects such as the Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History (BRANCH) website have embraced the possibilities of short-form writing.
These new spaces for presenting history bring new opportunities as well as challenges, but discussions of short historical…
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