Empathy in Historical Studies

The next event in the Futures of History seminar series (Centre for the Philosophy of History) will be:

Dr Tyson Retz

The History and Function of Empathy in Historical Studies: re-enactment and hermeneutics

Wednesday 18 January 2017

St Mary’s University, Twickenham

Senior Common Room:  2– 4pm.

In this paper Dr Retz explains the link between empathy, the history discipline, the philosophy of history and history education. He examines the concept’s basis in German historicism and R.G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history, as well as considering its legacy in twentieth-century hermeneutics. The conjunction of Collingwood and Gadamer on the importance of question-and-answer logic is offered as illuminating the historical context that empathetic understanding should attempt to identify.  

About the speaker:

Dr Tyson Retz received his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2016. His current research takes German historicism and its methods as a basis for examining the development of French historical thought and writing in the first half of the nineteenth century. 

This is a free event and all are welcome. As usual there will be homemade cakes and plenty of time for discussion.

For more information please email mark.donnelly@stmarys.ac.uk or claire.norton@stmarys.ac.uk

We hope to see you there for what we are sure will be a stimulating discussion.

Robert Rosenstone

Rosenstone book Cover.jpg

As a new academic year begins so too do the Futures of History seminars. This year Robert Rosenstone will be giving the first seminar.

Robert Rosenstone Adventures of a Postmodern Historian: Living and Writing the Past

Robert will discuss his evolving historiographical development over the last fifty plus years in relation to the wider cultural environment, changing notions of the “historical,” and his own life experiences undertaking research in Franco Spain, the Soviet Union, Japan, and Hollywood. He will illustrate some of these experiences and larger cultural shifts with brief readings from his new book.  The larger point is not just to show how the historian is inevitably a creature of the times, but to more specifically suggest how notions of what we consider to be “history” can and have changed significantly in the last half century, and how those macro changes can strongly impact the micro level of the individual historian.

Everyone is welcome and there will be home-made cake. Hope to see you there.

Friday 30th September 1-3pm, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, Senior Common Room

Robert A. Rosenstone, Professor of History Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology is one of the most prominent names in the fast-growing subfield of history in the visual media.  He has written works of history, biography, criticism, and fiction. His historical writings include Crusade of the Left: The Lincoln Battalion in the Spanish Civil War (1969), Romantic Revolutionary: A Biography of John Reed (1975), and Mirror in the Shrine (1988), while his books on the media include Visions of the Past (1995) and History on Film / Film on History (2006), and two edited collections, Revisioning History (1995) and A Blackwell Companion to Historical Film (2013). His fiction includes a book of stories, The Man Who Swam into History (2002), and two novels, King of Odessa (2003) and Red Star, Crescent Moon (2010). Rosenstone has worked as a consultant on several documentaries and feature films, including the Academy Award-winning Reds (1982).  He has served on the editorial boards of the American Historical Review and Reviews in American History, and is a founding editor of Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice.  

If you have any questions please email Claire or Mark.






Pasts Without History – Programme

We have a great two-day symposium planned for next Tuesday adn Wednesday. programme is below. Everyone is welcome – see here for more details about the papers. Email Claire or Mark for more information 

Pasts Without History: Politics and the Practical Past

21-22 June 2016

 Tuesday 21 June 2016

 Room: Senior Common Room

10.00-10.15     Refreshments and Introduction

10.15-11.00     Bernard Regan, Kiri Tunks – Beyond the Wall

11.00-11.45     Martin Davies – History: the technocratic management of an artificial world

 11.45-12.00     Break

12.00-12.45     Vicky Iglikowski – Putting Files on Film

12.45-1.00       Round-up Discussion

1.00-1.45         Lunch

Room: G5

1.45-2.30         Jelena Juresa – Moving Image and Memory: tackling identity questions through music

2.30-3.15         Paul Antick – Three Places I Never Went To When I Was Alive

3.15-3.30         Break                        

3.30-4.15         Amy Roberts – Interference Archive

4.15-4.45         Round-up Discussion

6.15                 Meet at Reception for meal at a local restaurant



Wednesday 22 June 2016

 Room: Senior Common Room

9.30-10.15       Gisele Iecker de Almeida – Where to now? The future in the present (with a stopover in the past)

10.15-11.00     Jean Debney – The ‘Presented(ed)’-ness of the Before Now

11.00-11.15     Break

11.15-12.00     Joe Iosbaker – Putting Israel on Trial in a U.S. Court: the case of Rasmea Odeh

12.00-12.45     Pete Kyle – After the War

12.45-1.30       Lunch

1.30-2.15         Helen Bendon – Spatialising History

2.15-3.00         Jim Kosem – Reading, Writing, Design, Life and History

3.00-3.15         Break

3.15-4.00         Phoenix – Archives of Resistance

4.00-4.30         Round-up Discussion

End of Conference



Conscription and Conscience


One of our MA in Public History students, Catharine Williams, has been doing a work placement at the National Archives. As part of her work there she produced this  blog entry about conscription and conscience in the First World War using the records of the Middlesex Military Tribunal. It’s a great piece on the process of applying for military exemption and the reasons given by the men for not going ‘to murder and butcher people’. There are also a couple of interesting comments including one by someone who staged a play based on the experiences of a conscientious objector. See here for the post.

The photograph above is of the Conscientious Objectors Commemorative Stone in Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, London. It is designed to commemorate the struggle of  conscientious objectors past and present and was coordinated by the Peace Pledge Union. It was unveiled on May 15th 1994 – International Conscientious Objectors Day.



Pasts Without History: Politics and the Practical Past


The Centre for the Philosophy of History will host a two-day symposium in June.

Pasts without History: politics and the practical past

21-22nd June 2016

The symposium will explore how past narratives are used outside of a strictly academic context: in museums, community archives, on Facebook, by artists, novelists and activists. The aim is to decenter elite or sedimented forms of historicisation, to consider alternative narrations of our pasts and how these can and are used to interrogate our presents and imagine better futures. What is at stake is not just a matter of sharing authority over the past, but in some circumstances wresting it back from dominant interests who exclude voices, perspectives and narratives from the field of historical knowledge. Our aim is to show that non-institutional, vernacular ways of producing ‘truths’ about the past can be a good starting point for discussions of what to do in the present – and one that is based on more inclusive understandings of whose voices count in the debate. Participants include artists, activists, curators, novelists and archivists.

For more information, details on speakers please see here.

Everyone is welcome