On periodisation: unanswerable questions, questionable answers

From the excellent series on periodisation is this nice piece of reflection – hope to take my blogging and work to such heights eventually.

the many-headed monster

Laura Sangha

The many-headed monster’s mini-series ‘On Periodisation’ really struck a chord with our readers, prompting an outpouring of comments both below the line and on twitter. I have captured many of these in this Storify – thanks so much to everyone who took the time to offer their thoughts, and my apologies to anyone whose comments I missed, but it was hard to keep up!

Picture2The digested version is that comments tended to fall into three categories: those who were prompted to reflect on periodisation in relation to their own research; those who offered a transnational perspective; and those who added an interdisciplinary slant to the discussion. Whilst debates on this topic are a constant of historical research, social media has the benefit of creating a more diverse conversation which encourages broader perspectives and raises new complications. If the debate continues I intend to add to the…

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Arguing for history: If not skills, then what?

I was thinking about how i could blog about the Queens Uni (Belfast) VC idiotic comments on History – but this is simply the best blog i have read.


The quiet, leafy corner of Twitter where I spend increasing amounts of my time exploded this morning with responses to the following statement:

Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who is a thinker and someone who has the potential to help society drive forward.

Non-academics may be surprised to learn that the author of the statement was in fact not a Trump advisor or even a random sentence generator, but instead the vice chancellor (president, for North Americans) of a major research university, Queen’s University Belfast. Meanwhile, historians on either side of the Atlantic will find the sentiment familiar and the source all too predictable. In light of my last couple of posts regarding the use of “skills” language to defend history and the humanities, Dr. Johnston’s…

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