History on the Box – 2017 Preview

Here is a brief preview of things to look out for on the blog in 2017 (I know, it’s almost mid-February already! What’s going on?)

More reviews

Last year we had range of great reviews of historical documentaries and dramas. Drawing on their expertise as PhD researchers, our reviewers provide insight into a range of historical topics: the Mayflower, opium consumption in nineteenth century Britain, family history in Australia and the American civil rights movement.

This year we can look forward to more fantastic reviews from a range of perspectives. We will be showcasing some of the talented researchers at the University of Leicester and offering an analysis of some of the new ways in which history is represented on television.

Video debate/discussion

Moving beyond our traditional written review format, we will also be looking to experiment with new ways of engaging with historical programming. Specifically, in March, we will be doing a vlog debate/discussion (debate or discussion depending how it turns out!) on Six Wives with Lucy Worsley. This documentary series makes use of ‘dramatic reconstruction’ to try and tell the story of Henry VII’s wives in a new way. In the series Worsley takes on the role of a ‘time traveller’ who views the events first hand.

We will be discussing the value of this different approach to historical documentary. Does Worsley’s time travelling presence help viewers to better connect with the historical subjects or does it distract from the historical events? At the heart of this discussion will be the question of how to balance entertainment and public interest with thorough historical scholarship? What should the relationship between academics and historical programming be like?

In a world where the analysis of momentous contemporary political events – such as Brexit, Trump or the Syrian refugee crisis – rests on an understanding of history, these questions are more pressing than ever!

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