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Showing posts from April, 2012

Hear my response on the Today programme to Richard Jones's article on the Luddites

Catherine Hall, 'On Being a Historian in 2012', plenary lecture

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Catherine Hall gave the plenary lecture to the Social History Society annual conference at the University of Brighton on 4 April 2012.

I've done some brief lecture notes, which I repeat below. All interpretations of her argument are mine, not hers:


Hall began with a bold reminder that we are living in a critical time. Our work as historians is, and should be, always shaped by the world outside academia. The troubled times that we live in today suggest that we should rethink how we study the past. 

Hall then took us through her three major publications, explaining how the historical questions she asked had always been influenced by the moment in which she lived. History, she argues, is a living debate, always in context of the present world. In the 1960s, Marxism was a major influence. Then along came E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, which remains for Hall a foundational text. 

Women’s history disrupted the primary Marxist history of class from the late 1960s.…