Past is a popular country

May 6, 2010

Your leader on history makes a distinction between academic and popular history that I would struggle to find in practice ("Historical lessons are priceless", 29 April). I specialise, at least in part, in an area of history that is not popular at the moment - labour history. However, if I want to run a seminar on the subject that attracts people, simply adding, for example, the name of Bob Dylan to the title gets them in. There is actually quite a bit of labour history in Dylan's memoir, Chronicles.

If there are historians deliberately doing "unpopular" history, I wonder why. The past illuminates the present. However obscure the research, there will be interesting things for a wider audience in it.

Keith Flett, Convenor, London Socialist Historians Group.

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