Seminar series: Public History, IHR

Wednesday 6 February

Glen O’Hara (Dept of History, Oxford Brookes University), Ben Chu (The Independent): “History, Newspapers and the Blogosphere”

Historians today are under immense pressure to make their work ‘relevant’. Some Ministers are under the impression that humanities subjects are ‘ivory towers’ indulgences; undergradatute recruitment is set to become ever more competitive, forcing academics to reach out to wider audiences; and of course there is the pressure of the Research Excellence Framework ‘impact’ agenda, which asks all Higher Education Professionals to consider the societal relevance of their work. Yet historians still find it very difficult to break into the mainstream media. The languages that they use in their specialist work seem arcane to journalists, and media deadlines are in turn very difficult to meet, often running to just a few hours or even minutes. It is very difficult to turn presentational skills that are very effective in the classroom or lecture theatre to good use in consultancy or on television and radio. This session aims to advise historians on how to use new technologies – such as social media or ‘blogging’ – to embed and deepen such skills, and to attract attention to their work from the world outside academe. The presenters will each speak for 15-20 minutes on what is and what is not useful for journalists (and the private sector more broadly) in historial work – and what will not work so well. They will then enter into a workshop discussion with each other, and the audience, as to what does and does not constitute ‘popular’ or ‘accessible’ writing. Glen O’Hara is a former journalist, and a blogger on his ‘Public Policy and the Past’ website, while Ben Chu is the Economics Editor of ‘The Independent’.

Venue: Room S264, 2nd floor Senate House at 5.30pm. Drinks will be served. All welcome!