A Balanced Argument? Communicating the Power of Argument to History Undergraduates

A Balanced Argument? Communicating the Power of Argument to History Undergraduates

In March 2024, the Royal Historical Society visited historians at the Universities of York and York St John. The Visit included a panel discussion on the subject of communicating History to different audiences. In this post, Dr Elizabeth Goodwin (York St John) develops the themes of her presentation at the Visit. Elizabeth’s subject is how historians as teachers best communicate the potential of their discipline; and how learning to build, articulate and communicate an argument — in which the student is central — is a core purpose of the undergraduate experience. As Elizabeth contends, the need for such skills is pressing. Many students urgently seek the skills to build their confidence, while — more than ever — History as a discipline requires informed and eloquent advocates.

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Generative AI, History and Historians, a reading guide

Generative AI, History and Historians, a reading guide

There are few bigger, and more pressing, topics today than the current and future impact of Generative AI. Nowhere is this more evident than in Higher Education. The opportunities and challenges of GenAI are relevant to all those engaged in teaching and research. But each discipline also has distinctive questions and concerns relating to the latest iterations of AI. What, therefore, are the possible implications for the teaching, study, research and communication of history? In this post, we introduce a forthcoming Royal Historical Society event on ‘AI, History and Historians’, and launch a guide to recent commentaries on GenAI, the humanities and history.

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Hit songs in seventeenth-century England

Hit songs in seventeenth-century England

What makes for a hit song? In this post Christopher Marsh introduces the ‘100 Ballads’ project, a study of the most successful broadside ballads of seventeenth-century England. ‘100 Ballads’ was released online earlier this year. It brings together historians and players of early modern music to research and perform the most popular songs of the time. As well as a history of popular music, performance and publishing, 100 Ballads offers insight into the concerns of everyday life. The songs bring us stories of romance, comedy and tragedy, of value to historians of early modern politics society and culture. Though varied in their subject matter, successful broadside ballads were an amalgam of lyrics, melody and images that made for a hit.

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REF2029 AND OPEN ACCESS: A GUIDE TO THE CURRENT PROPOSALS FOR PUBLICATIONS

REF2029 AND OPEN ACCESS: A GUIDE TO THE CURRENT PROPOSALS FOR PUBLICATIONS

Earlier this month, REF2029 announced a consultation relating to its Open Access Policy. The policy sets out the open access requirements for eligible publications. The 2029 policy extends the scope to include ‘longform publications’ in the form of monographs, edited collections, book chapters and scholarly editions. The inclusion of longform publications in REF2029 is a major development, of particular importance for humanities disciplines including history. This post provides a summary of the key points of the REF2029 open access policy and initial concerns and questions which the Society will be developing in its response. 

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Who reads history blogs?

Who reads history blogs?

Digital communications are central to how we communicate, debate, teach and assess understanding of the past. In this post, David Geiringer goes back to one of the earliest, and most resilient, of these formats—the blog—to consider its development, use and relevance for historians. Originally championed for taking the communication of historical research beyond mainstream publishing and the academy, blogs are now integral to higher education assessment and practice. With blogs mainstream, it’s time to consider how much of their original, disruptive capacity—in terms of content, format and readership—still holds; and reflect on the future of the communication format you’re about to read.

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Teaching Soviet History from the Borderlands: A Case Study of Belarus and Ukraine

Teaching Soviet History from the Borderlands: A Case Study of Belarus and Ukraine

How can we ‘decolonise the curriculum’ when it comes to the history of the Soviet Union? How do we decentralise our historical approach to former-Soviet states? In this post Natalya Chernyshova discusses the importance of these questions for modern historians of this region. Natalya highlights missing links in research on former-Soviet states, and the ways in which this topic may be taught in future, with reference to Belarus and Ukraine. Particularly, she identifies the need to translate primary sources and create dedicated modules on this topic – two projects on which she has recently been working.

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History and memory in the 21st century

History and memory in the 21st century

In this post we hear from Lucy Noakes, Rab Butler Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex and—from January 2024—President-Elect of the Royal Historical Society. A specialist in the history of modern Britain, Lucy researches the experience and memory of those who have lived through conflict. How history is remembered and retold is central to identity and to how—as individuals, communities and nations—we respond to societal change or topics of public debate. Here, Lucy considers her longstanding interest in the relationship between past and present, and the role of the Society in promoting and communicating this relationship. Lucy will take on the Presidency of the Royal Historical Society from November 2024.

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Preparing for REF 2029

Preparing for REF 2029

Historians working in UK Higher Education will be very familiar with the ‘REF’ or Research Excellence Framework. Work is now underway for ‘REF 2029’, led by a team reporting to the four UK Higher Education funding bodies. With it come a number of changes to the means and structure of assessment. As a result, the next REF will differ in important ways from that held in 2021. In this post Barbara Bombi and Jonathan Morris – current and former chairs of the Society’s Research Policy Committee – outline those areas of REF 2029 design currently open to review, and summarise the RHS response to a major consultation of REF design which closed in October.

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WEB ACCESS TO BRITISH LIBRARY DATABASES: WORKAROUNDS for historians

WEB ACCESS TO BRITISH LIBRARY DATABASES: WORKAROUNDS for historians

On 28 October 2023, the British Library was subject to a major cyberattack, entailing a near complete shutdown of the Library’s web-based services. Staff at the British Library are continuing to work extremely hard to restore services. As this continues, a number of organisations are offering guidance on short-term alternatives and workarounds while BL databases remain unavailable for research or teaching across the UK and overseas. This post provides a summary of these alternatives and a selection of guides now available, with a special focus on those working historically. We also invite further proposals for alternative resources to add to this listing.

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Beyond the ‘good’/’bad’ migrant dichotomy: ways forward for early modern and contemporary history

Beyond the ‘good’/’bad’ migrant dichotomy: ways forward for early modern and contemporary history

RHS Workshop Grants support meetings of historians to undertake a wide range of projects, from research, to debate, programme planning and networking. The first round of RHS Workshops took place in 2023. They include a day event recently hosted by the Early Modern Migration Reading Group on the subject of ‘Beyond the “Good”/”Bad” Migrant Dichotomy: Ways Forward for Early Modern and Contemporary History’. In this post, the organisers of this Workshop — Kathleen Commons, Dan Rafiqi, Juliet Atkinson, and Samantha Sint Nicolaas — reflect on their project.

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Waiting to die? Old age in the late Imperial Russian village

Waiting to die? Old age in the late Imperial Russian village

What was daily life like for old people in Russian villages at the turn of the twentieth century? In this post, Sarah Badcock (University of Nottingham) considers the lives of non-able elderly people in late Imperial Russia; drawing on accounts of real lives and representations of old age in art and literature. This post introduces and accompanies Sarah’s research article, ‘Waiting to Die? Old Age in the Late Imperial Russian Village’, which was recently published Open Access on FirstView for ‘Transactions of the Royal Historical Society’.

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STATUES, SURREALISM AND PUBLIC SPACE

STATUES, SURREALISM AND PUBLIC SPACE

The purpose of statues in public spaces has recently become a matter of controversy. In this post, Pippa Catterall considers how and when a statue may be read as appropriately situated in public space, and when and how it is not. Appropriateness is primarily determined by the ways in which public authorities authorise the use of public space. Yet understanding of the fit between a statue and public space varies over time, and may be deliberately subverted. This placing of statues in ‘a state of surrealism’ also goes beyond relocation.

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