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.

The free public lectures offered by the history department started again in January. If you couldn’t make it, or would like to watch it again, the first one – Dr Stuart Mitchell on the history of the Tory Party – is now available to view on this link. On the afternoon of 18th March, the second lecture will feature Dr Vincent Trott speaking on the commemoration of the First World War. We’re expecting it to pull in a very good audience and the department is eager to have some OUHS members come along. You can find out all about the event here. There were some great talks last year, of course, and you can watch any of them in full on this playlist.

The Curious case of the Photo Fit

You may remember in the last update that we showcased some of the work that Professor Paul Lawrence has been doing on the peculiar history of the Photo-Fit as a tool for fighting crime. Paul has now published an article in the Historical Journal which reveals more about his research. Entitled “Policing, ‘Science’, and the Curious Case of Photo-fit”, you can read the abstract here. The journal is in press at the moment, so you will have to wait a little to see the whole thing, but I hope that’s whetted your appetite!

Decolonisation Overview

Also on the publications front, Karl Hack, Professor of Asian and Imperial History, has brought out an article in the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, which gives an overview of British imperial history and a survey of the state of research into the phenomenon of decolonisation. This one you can read in full if you have access to the Open University’s online library (you need to be signed in). It’s available here.

Intriguing tales from history

25th March sees the launch of a new series of public history talks run by Dr Stuart Mitchell. Called ‘Curious Histories’, the programme is going to focus on the largely forgotten or in some way eccentric stories of the past. Beginning with the intriguing ‘Tale of a Revolutionary Conman’, the lectures are going to be free to attend, and there’s an online facebook community to join if you can’t make them in person. We’re proud to say that the first two talks are going to be given by recent graduates from the department’s MA in history; you can sign up for the first one here.

Welsh local heritage

While we’re on the subject of public engagement, Dr Richard Marsden, who runs our popular undergraduate course ‘The Making of Welsh History’, has been successful in his bid to set up a community research project with participants in Blaenau Gwent (South Wales). A series of workshops facilitated by Open University history tutors are at the heart of the project. These will support community members to reflect on local heritage and its contribution to their sense of identity. Participants will be helped to articulate their memories through art, song-writing and oral history. At the end of the project, a multi-media exhibition of contributors’ work, designed by community members, will go on tour and made available online. We’ll keep you posted!

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

January 2020

December 2019

November 2019