How has history and the practice of history been understood in the past? What did the historians of Ancient Greece and Rome understand to be history? Did history repeat itself? Could it offer lessons for today? How did have the historians of Britain taken up these questions. And what about in the rest of Europe? What does exploring one of the key events of European history – the French Revolution – show us about the different ways in which history can be written and understood?
How does considering history at different scales affect how we write it and what questions we can ask of it? Micro-histories suggest that we need to understand the small if we wish to see the large; moving up the scale, what is the relationship between the individual in history? How have ideas of the nation affected the writing of history? What does considering the formation and running of empires allow historians to do, which smaller scale approaches cannot?
History is not only about people, it also encompasses how they have shaped their landscape, the technologies they use and the ideas and beliefs which sustain, unite and divide them. Looking at history from different angles and with different sources allows historians to construct new understandings of our past and our relationship with it today.
We might associate history with the archives, but historians use evidence of all kinds to inform their work. Eye witness accounts, stained glass, text, paint, costume, building, sculpture, cinema, broadcasting, the internet, all these provide the raw materials for historians. And not only historians, propagandists also use these mediums to spread their message and shape their world. and effect. While looking at the role of myth and memory in historical accounts allows us to explore the complex relationship between sources and history.