The Public History Workshop

The details
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
22 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module will explore how the past is transmitted and constructed in numerous public contexts, allowing students to compare contemporary presentations with those from a previous era. We will examine the many different genres and spaces through which history is, and has been, conveyed, from the museum, to the documentary, to the war memorial, school textbook, Hollywood epic and even computer game.

Module aims

Students will explore the many different forms history can take in public. How to engage with public history in a critical way. The issues and the opportunities for the academic historian in doing ‘history in public’. The complex politics of public history, memory and commemoration and the practical concerns and priorities that shape the making of public history.

Module learning outcomes

The workshop aspect of this module will enable students to bring the theoretical understanding they draw from their readings into regular seminar discussions with the University's own public history practitioners, who will describe and answer questions about their past and current projects. Students will discover how scholarly research is made accessible to a wider audience; the way medium and audience interact to shape what kind of history is presented; the role of history, memory and myth in the creation of public identities; and the political contests that 'applied' history often generates. Students will also be given the opportunity to themselves create, participate in, and/or critique a piece of public history as part of their coursework assessment.

Module information

There is no set textbook for this module, but if you are looking to purchase an overall guide to the forms, challenges and implications of public history, a recommended collection is the recently published:

H. Kean and P. Martin (eds), The Public History Reader (Routledge, 2013)

Learning and teaching methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week


  • Share your HB2 experiences NC HB2: A Citizens' History,
  • Archives As Activism –,
  • T. Hunt. (2006) 'Reality, Identity and Empathy: The Changing Face of Social History Television', in Journal of Social History. vol. 39 (3) , pp.843-858
  • Thomas Cauvin. (2016) Public history: a textbook of practice, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
  • TNR Film Classic: 'Glory' (1990) | The New Republic,
  • (2009) 'AHR Forum Simon Schama's History of Britain', in The American Historical Review. vol. 114 (3) , pp.662-700
  • Kean, H.; Martin, P. (2013) The public history reader, Abingdon: Routledge. vol. Routledge readers in history
  • (©2018) History, memory and public life: the past in the present, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  • R.A. Rosenstone. (1988) 'History in Images/History in Words: Reflections on the Possibility of Really Putting History onto Film', in The American Historical Review. vol. 93 (5) , pp.1173-1185
  • Ward, Richard. (2015) A Global History of Execution and the Criminal Corpse, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Carnes, M.C. (1995) Past imperfect: history according to the movies, New York: H. Holt.
  • Can Movies Teach History? -,
  • Jackson, Ben. (2005-09) 'The Conceptual History of Social Justice', in Political Studies Review. vol. 3 (3) , pp.356-373
  • scholarship and activism | A forum for debate on the relation between scholarship and activism,
  • Jordanova, L. J. (©2019) History in practice, London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  • Jordanova, L. J. (©2019) 'Public History', in History in practice, London: Bloomsbury Academic., pp.167-195

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay Plan    10% 
Coursework   4,000-5,000 Extended Essay    5% 
Practical   Class Participation    85% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Alix Green, email:
Dr Alix Green
Senior Student Administrator, Department of History, Telephone: 01206 872190



External examiner

Dr Paul Corthorn
Queen's University Belfast
Senior Lecturer in Modern British History
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 19 (95%) hours available to students:
1 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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