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Public and Popular History

What happens when history narratives are produced not for library bookshelves but for a mass audience? Does popularization of history automatically mean dumbing down? Who are the people who make history for the public sphere, and what are their motivations and priorities? The Public & Popular History seminar series brings them together, film makers, journalists, professional historians and museum curators. Through talks, multi-media presentations, panel discussions, and debates the seminar explores the practices and characteristics of public and popular history in the contemporary world.



Convenors: David Reynolds (djr17) and Helen McCarthy (hm234).
Bernhard Fulda (bdf20) is on leave.  

Meetings on Thursdays at 5pm in the Lloyd Room, Third Court, Christ’s College.


31 January         


 Exhibitions are a popular engagement tool for academics seeking to bring their research to wider audiences, as well as a core activity for museums, galleries and libraries. Translating scholarship into forms that will intrigue, surprise or enlighten the non-specialist visitor is not, however, a straightforward task.

Historian Dr Helen McCarthy (St. John’s College) will reflect on her recent experience of creating These Four Walls – a photographic exhibition based on her research into the history of women home-workers – while, from the other side, Dr Chris Burgess (University Library) will talk about the creative and practical work that goes into the UL’s programme of major exhibitions.



28 February       

HISTORIANS AND THE MOVIES: Mary Queen of Scots and The Favourite

Professional historians are often listed as ‘consultants’ for movies or TV series. But are their names there simply for decoration? How far can they ensure ‘historical accuracy’?  And what might that term mean for film-makers?

Two major history movies about women and power were released in the New Year and we have a chance to hear from their historical consultants.

Professor John Guy (Clare College) talks about the adaptation of his best-selling biography for the film  Mary Queen of Scots (dir. Josie Rourke) and Dr Hannah Greig (York University)  shares her experiences advising on The Favourite (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos) – a black comedy about the women close to Queen Anne. 

The Seminar is grateful for the generous support of the Trevelyan Fund.


Lent Term 2019 programme - print version


Seminar Programme Archive

 Michaelmas Term 2018 programme

Lent Term 2018 programme

Michaelmas Term 2017 programme

Easter Term 2017 programme

Lent Term 2017 programme

 Lent Term 2015

Michaelmas Term 2014

 Lent Term 2014