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Lecture by Peter Hennessy
Fri 20 May 2016, 19:30 – 21:30 BST
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'Writing the history of one’s time’
Researching and writing the history of one’s own country in one’s own time has a peculiar fascination - the desire to make sense of what you have lived and experienced alongside the people, the customs, the practices and the institutions with whom and within which one has breathed and thought and had one’s being.
It is a branch of the historians’ craft which has its pitfalls, however: Excessive hindsight; a sense of inevitability where there was none; a temptation to extrapolate from the recent past into the near future; an appetite for shouting retrospectively at those we thought foolish or malign.
Yet without a sense of how we reached where we are today - the passions, the pulses and the events that shaped us individually and collective - we can become a society flying blind into what awaits us.
Peter Hennessy is Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary, University of London and sits in the House of Lords as a independent crossbench peer. His latest book is “The Silent Deep: A History of the Royal Navy Submarine Service” co-authored with James Finks. He is now working on a volume on the 1960s to follow his “Never Again: Britain 1945-1951” and “Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties”.
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