Open University History Department

The Open University’s History department is keen to have more contact with its students, past, present, and indeed future. We hope that you’ll be able to participate in some of our activities.

Free and fascinating YouTube talks

The department’s enormously successful free public lectures in the OPENTALKS series returned this year on 21st January. The first talk was by Dr Stuart Mitchell, called “The Bottom Line is Winning Elections”: Reflections on the History of the British Conservative Party. We were delighted to see a few OUHS members in the crowd and watching on the live stream online. The recording of the lecture is being prepared now and will be uploaded soon. We’ll provide the link in our next update here. That talk was only the first of several free events of this kind that we shall be running through winter and spring 2020. The next one will be delivered by Dr Vincent Trott, who will be talking about the commemoration of the First World War on the afternoon of 18th March. Keep the date free if you can and we’ll give you all the details in the next digest. Incidentally, you can still watch the talks from last year, which included some fascinating contributions on, for instance, the Tudor realm and the British Empire & Islam, on this link:

The cognitive challenges of Photofits

On the matter of free public talks, no doubt several of you watched Professor Paul Lawrence’s excellent inaugural lecture ‘What’s the Point of Criminal Justice History?’, which examined how a historical approach to criminal justice contributes to contemporary understandings of crime, in October last year. If you missed it, however, or you’d like to watch it again, it’s now available as an online video. One of the most intriguing parts of the lecture was Paul’s exploration of the development of PhotoFits as a tool in crime solving. The university has developed a fascinating interactive game online, called PhotoFit Me, which draws on Paul’s research and demonstrates some of the cognitive problems associated with PhotoFit technology:

Six best novels of the 1800s

You might be familiar with Dr Ros Crone’s prison history work from the previous update, but she is an academic with lots of strings to her bow! Her work on Victorian fiction has been recently showcased in the BBC History magazine, in which Ros chooses the six novels that best reflect life in nineteenth century Britain. More details here

OUHS Weekend

Two of our academics are looking forward to meeting Society members at the OUHS Weekend Seminar on ‘Fun and Games’, 21st-23rd February. Dr Anna Plassart is an expert on the history of ideas in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and Dr John Slight is one of our resident specialists in British Imperial History. We very much hope that those of you attending will enjoy their talks.

New modules on Open Learn

You are probably already familiar with the university’s internet learning centre, Open Learn, which provides various short courses and articles for free online. There’s a large number of history resources and modules available there already, but two relatively new additions that you might not know about are, first, the interactive module First World War: trauma and memory , which has been written by Professor Annika Mombauer, and second, a collection of discussion pieces on the centenary of the ‘Red Clydeside’ protests of 1919, which has been authored by Dr Gerry Mooney. Both are worth checking out if you have the time.

More generally, you can keep up with OU history related news on the department’s blog: . Remember that the department is eager for your feedback on what we’re doing, and to learn about what researches and projects you might be undertaking. Do let us know!

Dr Stuart Mitchell
Department of History, Open University

Previous OU Updates

December 2019

November 2019