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Unit information: History Outside The Box (Level H Reflective History) in 2017/18

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Unit name History Outside The Box (Level H Reflective History)
Unit code HIST30089
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Will Pooley
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


What makes an historian and a history? Many historians have always been conscious of the need to tell great and memorable stories: to what extent have they sacrificed their academic credentials to do so? This unit will focus on storytellers and their techniques, from novelists and children’s historians, to ‘Twitterstorians’ and dramatists, and even comic books and video games. Indeed, the impact of new technology and media, combined with the self-consciously public role of the historian, is rapidly increasing the number of forums in which historical discourse might take place. Whether through stage-plays, social media, or television documentary, historians have found new ways to tell their stories, and storytellers have found in history a compelling subject matter. This unit will consider what it means to be an historian in the twenty-first century: does the blurring of the lines between academic and popular cultures amounts to a window of opportunity, or a compromise of intellectual values?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate:

(1) Awareness and critical analysis of the variety of ways history is produced and consumed;

(2) Understanding of the differences and similarities between histories produced within and beyond the academy;

(3) Consideration of the status of history as a literary form and reflection on the differences between 'fictional', 'factual', and 'counter-factual' histories;

(4) Advanced skills in the researching, reading and presentation of complex material at a standard appropriate to level H/6;

(5) Critical reflection on the study of history in public life, and the value of knowledge about the past in contemporary debates.

Teaching details

1 x two-hour seminar weekly

Assessment Details

One 24-hour take home written examination [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

De Groot, J., Remaking History: The Past in Contemporary Historical Fictions (Abingdon, 2015)

Ferguson, N., Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals (London, 1997)

Howsam, L., Past into Print: The Publishing of History in Britain, 1850-1950 (London, 2009)

Lowenthal, D., The Past is a Foreign Country Revisited (Cambridge, 2015)

Sellar, W. C. and Yeatman, R. J., 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England (London, 1998; f.p. 1930)

Tosh, J., Why History Matters (Basingstoke, 2008)