Drawing on theory and practice from five continents, The Public History Reader offers clearly written accessible introductions to debates in public history as it places people, such as practitioners, bloggers, archivists, local historians, curators or those working in education, at the heart of history-making.
Hilda Kean and Paul Martin explore public history as an everyday practice rather than simply as an academic discipline - the idea that historical knowledge is discovered and accrued from everyday encounters people have with their environments and the continuing dialogue that the present has with the past.
Divided into three parts, Part I looks at who makes history, focusing on the ways in which the past has taken on a heightened popular sense of importance in the present and the ways in which it is used. Accordingly, history, far from being ‘fixed’ in time, is fluid and is re-made to serve contemporary agendas in the present. Part II addresses the question of materials and approaches to making history. By using material more commonly within the domain of artists, collectors or geographers and archaeologists, public historians have opened up understandings of the past. Part III looks at the way in which presentations of the past change over time and their different forms and emphases. Throughout, the Reader emphasizes the challenges for public historians today.
Using their own expertise in constructing and teaching a Public History MA, Hilda Kean and Paul Martin have suggested themes and indicative extracts that draw on their understanding of what works best with students. The Public History Reader is a perfect resource for all students of public history and all those interested in understanding the role of the past in our lives today.
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Dr Hilda Kean is former dean and director of public history at Ruskin college, Oxford where she established the first MA in Public History in Britain. Her books include London stories. Personal lives, public histories (2004) and People and their pasts. Public history today with Paul Ashton (2009)
Dr Paul Martin was tutor in public history at Ruskin college, Oxford 1997-2012. He is currently a distance learning tutor with the School of Museum Studies, Leicester University. His books include Popular Collecting and the Everyday Self (1999) and The Trade Union Badge (2002).Review:
"Kean and Martin's volume will be invaluable for anyone interested in public history. It is characterised by its generous reach: it includes work and ideas from many countries; it stresses the diverse forms public history takes and the range of communities that actively participate in making it; it shows how it can be innovative and challenge settled assumptions about both the past and its representation. This book will help its readers think in an engaged yet critical manner about the processes and social practices underpinning public history, and its complex, sometimes disturbing resonances in everyday life, for example, when atrocities need to be recognised and understood. Hilda Kean and Paul Martin have provided an extremely useful point of access to one of the most lively and important parts of history today." - Ludmilla Jordanova, King's College London, UK
"This will become an essential text for all those interested in the interrogation of everyday experience, who regard history as a social form of knowledge, the work of a thousand different hands. Kean and Martin are in the vanguard of the study of Public History helping us challenge conventional approaches to history. In this volume they have brought together not only some of its leading texts but embraced its rich cross-disciplinary appeal, drawing upon film makers, novelists and curators as well as those who have taught history, geography or anthropology. Conscientiously researched, insightful and intelligently compiled, this is a crucial compendium for all who want to understand the rich discourses of public history." - Paul Gough, University of the West of England, UK
"Enriched by enticing examples from around the world, The Public History Reader illuminates how the past is made into history by many kinds of people, including professional historians but also individuals and groups determined to explore and represent their own histories. The Reader showcases the diverse tangible and intangible sources we use to make public histories, and highlights how histories matter - and why they are contested - for individuals, institutions, communities and nations." - Alistair Thomson, Monash University, Australia
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