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"
There has recently been an important conversation where I work about reading lists for undergraduate courses. What am I actually setting my students to read? Do the things I set them represent a fair cross-section of research and primary sources in this area? I think that the students at UCL who first asked ‘Why is […]Read more "Crime, gender, and reading lists"
StoryingthePast are pleased to present a series of blog posts based on the ‘Creative Histories’ conference held in Bristol in July, and supported by the British Academy, Bristol Institute for the Humanities and Arts, and the Department of History, University of Bristol. The first post from Catherine Fletcher is live today, and the subsequent posts […] […]Read more "Creative Histories Blog Series"