Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Why We Study History

Anna Whitelock writes for the BBC History Magazine:

Has there ever been a better or more important time to study history? The past is alive, dynamic, controversial and hugely relevant. History is constantly being written and rewritten, contested and reinterpreted. History is more than simply looking backwards and studying the past – it is also about critically engaging with the present and the future. It is about individuals, families, nations and the global community.

A history degree is not just for those who want to be professional historians – it is for anyone who is curious about the world around them and who wants to be a critically engaged citizen. It is, in fact, one of the most versatile subjects you can choose to study. Facts and dates are merely the basic building blocks. Historical study teaches us to think critically, analytically and creatively, to read and interpret all kinds of information, to evaluate opinions and to write persuasively. . . .

The study of history is so much more than learning about kings, queens and governments; it is also about societies all across the world and how people have lived over the centuries. It is about justice and injustice, innovation and continuity, freedom and repression. It is about race and religion, ideas and beliefs, about travel, exploration and discovery, about medicine, sex and death, about architecture and art, literature and music. It is, in short, about life. To be a historian is to be questioning, to have a vivid imagination and an insatiable curiosity.

In publishing and in broadcasting, history is a phenomenon that continues to exceed expectations; television shows, films, books, plays and computer games attest to the huge public appetite for all things historical.

She then discusses the challenges of digital communication and social media. Read the rest here.

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