Historians in the Public Sphere

The Group will meet online in Michaelmas Term on Thursdays at 15:00-16:00 (GMT)

Registration is required – please email martin.robert@wolfson.ox.ac.uk to receive the joining link

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.

With the kind support of the Maison Française d’Oxford, the Centre d’histoire des régulations sociales, and the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Thursday 21 January 2021 (1st Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 28 January 2021 (2nd Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 4 February 2021 (3rd Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 11 February 2021 (4th Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 18 February 2021 (5th Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 25 February 2021 (6th Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 4 March 2021 (7th Week, Hilary Term)

Thursday 11 March 2021 (8th Week, Hilary Term)

This series features in the following public collections: