History as Wonder

Marnie-Hughes-Guest-Lecture

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, vice-chancellor at the Australian National University in Canberra, and well-known theorist made space in her very busy schedule to stop by St Mary’s University College and give the first paper in the newly formed Centre for the Philosophy of History seminar series last Thursday 12th September. Her paper was entitled History as Wonder and explored the role wonder could have in the making of history. It ranged from Bulgarian dwarfs employed by Mediterranean pirates to sink ships, to unsuccessful 19th century world histories, Aristotle, Foucault and hysteria.

The paper marks the start of a new research project/book in which Marnie wants to explore the notion of wonder as a means of destabilizing not only how we conceive of history but also how we think about the theory of history. Marnie is the author of many books including History Goes to the Movies (2007), ‘How Good an Historian Shall I Be?’: R. G. Collingwood, the Historical Imagination and Education (2003); and Fifty Key Thinkers on History (third edition expected 2014). Her latest book Revisionist Histories (2013), through a series of case studies looking at graphic novels, websites, marginalia in library books, and wall murals, explores how authors and audiences are constantly involved in the rewriting of history and are therefore active participants in the construction of historical meanings. Just as in the paper she gave last week, she also considers the ethical implications of this for historiography and historical discourse in general. Marnie is one of the external affiliates of the Centre for the Philosophy of History and it was lovely to finally meet her in person.

See here for an interview with Marnie Hughes-Warrington about her new project

Claire