Topics in Public History: Britain, Ireland, and the Empire

History 4910: Topics in Public History: Britain, Ireland, and the British Empire, was an upper-division History course at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, taught by Prof. Amy Woodson-Boulton in Fall 2017. The course introduced students to the issues and practice of public history, which is dedicated to addressing and engaging the broader public in issues of history, memory, commemoration, and identity. We considered public history through a study of the British Isles in relation to the world. What forms has public history taken in Britain, Ireland, and the former British Empire? How have the British and Irish debated their role in Europe, their own national identities, and their role as colonizers and colonized? How have they engaged with meaningful debate about the role of history in politics and national identity? What debates over commemoration, visibility, and invisibility or erasure have become important for people in Britain, Ireland, and their former colonies? Students identified and researched a specific topic related to Britain, Ireland, and the world, and collaborated to translate their research into this website. By putting their study of public history theory into practice in a public forum, students were able to connect their (virtual) out-of-classroom experience with their academic content. Public history as a practice means connecting past ideas, lives, and experiences to the present day, illustrating the need for continual re-interpretation, and communicating the gripping interest of historical research to those outside of academia. The experience of considering the broader implications of their academic work has invited students — and invites our broader audience — to consider the meaning and uses of information in general, and of history in particular, in public debates and in the formation of communal (national, racial, ethnic, religious) identities.

I include my syllabusschedule, and website assignments for other instructors to use and adapt. Please get in touch with comments, questions, and suggestions: