The Public History Reader

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-04-19
  • Publisher: Routledge

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Public history is growing internationally both as an intellectual area of historiography and as a field of potential employment. The Public History Reader provides both a comprehensive introduction to public history by facilitating understanding through contextualising debates and controversies and also by raising questions and suggesting possible responses. In a general introduction Hilda Kean shows that although the forms of history may be different, the idea that the past is used in different ways to create histories in the modern world is present and evident in a range of cultures and across time. She goes on to discuss different interpretations of the meaning of the phrase public history in different countries and cultures and raises the issue of contestation. 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 or needs in the present. Part II address the question of materials and approaches to making history. By using material more commonly within the domain of art historians or geographers and archaeologists, public historians have opened up understandings of the past. Part III looks at the way presentations of the past change over time and have been changed providing a context for the different forms of presentation of the past. It concludes by thinking about the challenges for public historians today. Using their own experiences of constructing a Public history MA, Hilda Kean and Paul Martin have suggested themes and indicative extracts that draw on their experience in knowing what works best with their students, what they have difficulty in grasping and how to develop their understanding of historical concepts. The Public History Reader is, therefore, a perfect resource for all students of Public History.

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