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What is history?

Finally! I am now an Historian – I finished my last unit and have officially passed – the graduation ceremony is in a couple of weeks should be interesting. But more importantly I have started my Honours Degree (master equivalent in most other faculties). We had our first session last week a nice small group of 5 all of whom I ahve done units with before, which makes it nice and convivial immediately – instead going through the whole group dynamic thing – we already know each other which makes for easier conversation and discussion.

Our first topic is “What is History?” with a reading from EH Carr and another by a Richard Evans (the name of one of my infamous embezelling ancestors!).  I have the book by Carr it is a series of lectures, the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge University during January to March in 1961.  Now there is much on the web about Carr; his life, work and foibles andI think there is a story of one upmanship behind these lectures.  It appears that Carr was the subject of much criticism on his views of history and the objectivity of historians.  Carr has been accused of not “walking the talk” by Evans, who poses that Carr conveniently left out “facts” that didn’t suit his history of the Russian Bolshevics.  One of Carr’s best comments is “accuarcy is not a virtue of Historians – its a duty” but he also strongly advocates that all of history is filtered.  Firstly by those who record it and secondly by those who interpret it.  We all have biases and agendas and anyone who says they are completely objective is kidding themselves!

So What is History – the current theory that history only becomes history once an Historian has written about it.  Carr extends this to “historical facts” as well.  There are “facts” about everything but they don’t become historical until referred to or so used by an Historian.

What do you think?

 

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