I’m a two-times history graduate, a one-time history teacher, and a PR lecturer who frequently draws examples from history. Here are some examples of what history means to me today:
- I saw Alan Bennet’s The History Boys on stage in Bradford recently (a Yorkshire venue is appropriate to the author and the subject), though I haven’t yet seen the film. The play was sure to appeal to me (given my potted biography above), but has been a huge hit on stage in New York before being filmed. Now it seems everyone’s interested in history and in education – not just me.
- I used to teach ‘new media’ from the perspective that technological developments were new. Then I reminded myself that to an 18 year-old school leaver the web has existed all their conscious lives. Google (founded in 1999) is now a middle-aged company. ‘New’ isn’t always so new as we think.
- Last month, I went for lunch to celebrate my Cambridge history tutor’s 30 years in the same job. Will any of my students remember me in 30 years? Will any of us still be remembered three generations from now?
- A PR student spoke to me today very about her conversion to Islam. I’m not religious, but can understand how comforting it must be to be (or become) part of a continuous tradition dating back millennia. A business student I teach is building a new life in Britain having grown up in Baghdad: a reminder that history is being made today; it’s not confined to the past.
- If journalism is the ‘first draft of history’, then public relations sources will become footnotes to history.