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“Only Connect’: Reflections on Historical Practice

Tid Onsdag 25 september, 2019 kl. 10:15 - 12:00
Plats Humanisthuset, HE109

Högre seminariet i historia och idéhistoria bjuder in till seminarium med Ludmilla Jordanova, Durham university, England. “Only Connect’: Reflections on Historical Practice.


The phrase ‘only connect’ is associated with Howard’s End, E.M.Forster’s novel, published in 1910 and an English classic.  It is also the title of an artwork by Ian Hamilton Finlay at Jupiter Artland in Scotland, which invokes Forster’s novel.  This clearly resonant idea may be useful to historians too.  It is our job to make strong, convincing connections, to discern patterns, and to show how phenomena relate to one another, often in ways that historical actors themselves could neither perceive nor have anticipated.  We employ all sorts of devices and concepts for connecting up elements from the past, and it is useful to subject them to scrutiny. ‘Only connect’ then is a jumping off point for reflecting not just on historical practice, but on how we describe and conceptualise it.  In Forster’s hands the phrase suggested the difficulties that groups with different values and back stories experience in sympathising with and accommodating each other – a challenge that historians have to meet constantly in their professional lives, and that has ethical dimensions.  In this respect too Howard’s End may be relevant to historians.  Indeed in reflecting on historical practice, we may find fiction to be a rich source of ideas and insights.  By the same token, when historians deploy ‘non-documentary’ sources, such as art and literature, and engage with the fields that have specialised in them, they can both sharpen and extend their understanding of their own craft.

Om seminarieserien

Seminarieserien Högre seminariet i historia och idéhistoria är främst till för att ventilera avhandlingsavsnitt och annan forskning inom historia och idéhistoria vid institutionen för idé- och samhällsstudier.
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