How and why did people start to compose stories about the past? Why are some of these stories referred to as ‘history,’ when others are classified as ‘myth’ or ‘legend’? How are history and the nation connected? The history we study at school and university is the product of a particular western European tradition, but there are different ways of knowing about the past, and complex reasons why some stories survive over centuries. The discipline of history itself has also changed over time.
In this subject you will explore how diverse peoples have constructed stories about their pasts, and how these stories have made an impact over time. You’ll hear from experts in the disciplines of History, Classics, and Archaeology who share an interest in the past but who use different types of evidence and ask different questions of that evidence. Our examination will range from the myths of Classical Greece and Rome; through the ancient texts, oral traditions and archaeology of South Asia, Early Medieval Britain and the Viking world; to uses of the past in the settler colonial worlds of America and Australia from the 19th century, in twentieth-century Nazi Germany, and in contemporary South Asia.
You will gain expertise in using a variety of historical sources including written stories, documents, objects, and visual materials such as paintings and film. You will have the opportunity to reflect on what it really means to study 'history’ and why history continues to play both an important and controversial role in politics, culture and in our understandings of ourselves.