Mark Davies (Oxford local historian, author) and Liz Woolley (Oxford local historian, author)
Conveners: Dr. Martin Robert (University of Oxford) and Evan Bonney (SciencesPo Paris)
Registration required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Through suggested short readings and/or guest speakers, this discussion group seeks to debate the challenges for the historian who participates in the public sphere. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its historical resonances, historians have been more present than ever in print and broadcast journalism, policy-making, and social media. Nonetheless, there remains the question of history as a political tool, which historian Robert Gildea (Worcester College, Oxford) recently argued as essential for understanding contemporary domestic and foreign politics in the UK and France. Consequently, history has a use in the public sphere, but the historian cannot always guide how history is negotiated, modified, and understood. This discussion group seeks to better understand this process, highlighting that the role of the historian in shaping public debate depends heavily on which historiographical tradition they derive from. Bringing together participants notably from the anglophone and francophone world, this group further seeks to be an opportunity to exchange perspectives on the extent to which the historian can influence the public sphere and conversely, how calls to publicly assess the relevance of history shape the way historians work today.
Note: Seminar sessions will be held in English, but the organisers are able to provide in the moment translations to and from French if needed - Les séances se tiendront en anglais, mais les organisateurs seront en mesure de fournir sur le moment une traduction vers le, ou à partir du français, au besoin.