This question has generated many responses since History emerged as an academic discipline.
But the answers keep changing as the world changes. Historians increasingly mirror the societies to which they belong. This has undeniable implications for which questions are asked, how history is taught, which topics get research funding, and so on.
Recently we have seen histories of Russia and China making the bestseller lists, reflecting their growing importance in global politics.
Climate change has also brought the previously marginalised field of environmental history to centre stage. We now see more and more environmental histories embedded within, for example, global, imperial, and cultural history.
More recently, big data has also begun to change the way historians work and what histories they write. Nevertheless, the old thinkers retain their relevance. Again, what is history?
Finally, history has also begun to consider how we all, as individuals and members of society, remember and interact with the past alongside the way(s) historians do, through memories of empire, conflict, nation birth (often all overlapping) amongst others.
Join our advanced historical study course
Want to discuss these developments and learn more about historical thinkers? If so, join us for a 10-week advanced historical studies course, starting Wednesday 26 January 2022.
We will cover the following topics:
1) ‘What is history?’
2) ‘Intellectual history’
3) ‘History and memory’.
If you have any questions, please contact Martin Jorgensen, history coordinator and course tutor, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advanced historical study