Why study History?

author_david_fleming_003_2_400_311_100“Studying history is like watching your favourite soap on TV, except that it actually happened. By thinking about the past human activities, we are better able understand the changing role of individuals and institutions. The study of history is concerned with change through time and with particular events. It facilitates an understanding of how societies have evolved and of how their development compares with that of other societies.

History is also concerned with giving the individual an understanding of personal identity and with how family, local and national memory is formed and transmitted from one generation to the next. History is directed at the forming of a narrative, with the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘who’ of events, but above all with the ‘why’ questions that help us understand collective and individual mentalité. History is more than just the study of ‘great men’ and high politics. Social history, for example, tries to reconstruct the lived experience of ordinary men and women in the past. There can be no ‘right’ answer in reconstructing the past; historical study necessarily involves how the treatment of a topic or, more often, an interest in the actual topic itself is influenced by how the writer or reader experiences his or her own times. Come join us and see.”

Dr David Fleming