The Economist: “The study of history is in decline in Britain”

U nastavku upućujemo na recentni članak iz “Economista” koji govori o padu interesa studenata za studij povijesti u Velikoj Britaniji i promjenama u akademskoj historiografiji obilježenoj hiperspecijalizacijom, podsjećajući na važnost povijesti u ovim prijelomnim – “povijesnim” – vremenima. Donosimo i obavijesti o polemičkim reakcijama na članak.



The Economist


The study of history is in decline in Britain


As the country navigates a historic period, it is losing its skill at interpreting the past


Jul 18th 2019


WHATEVER YOU think about recent events in Britain, you cannot deny that they qualify as historic. The country is trying to make a fundamental change in its relationship with the continent. The Conservative Party is in danger of splitting asunder and handing power to a far-left Labour Party. All this is taking place against the backdrop of a fracturing of the Western alliance and a resurgence of authoritarian populism.


Yet even as history’s chariot thunders at a furious pace, the study of history in British universities is in trouble. The subject used to hold a central position in national life. A scholarship to read history at one of the ancient universities was both a rite of passage for established members of the elite and a ticket into the elite for clever provincial boys, as Alan Bennett documented so touchingly in his play “The History Boys”. Prominent historians such as A.J.P. Taylor and Hugh Trevor-Roper were public figures who spoke to the nation about both historical and contemporary events. The Sunday Times had Trevor-Roper on retainer to write special reports on big news stories and Taylor’s televised lectures attracted millions of viewers.


This was as it should be. Britain is a small island with a gigantic history, and history connects it with the wisdom of the ages. But something has gone badly wrong of late. Even as history itself has become more dramatic, the study of history has shrivelled. The number reading it at university has declined by about a tenth in the past decade. The number studying languages, which often have a historical component, has fallen by a fifth—hardly an auspicious start for “global Britain”. Students have instead been stampeding into overtly practical subjects such as medicine, veterinary sciences and business studies.


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Kritički komentari povjesničara Roberta Saundersa:


This article is correct about the importance of history and the urgency of a more historically-informed public debate. But it erects a series of straw men in its attack on academic history. So here’s a response.