The differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic history: Maria Margaronis


Speaker: Maria Margaronis (The Nation)

Maria Margaronis uses the current example of the troubles in Greece to show how journalism requires a compression of interviews so that they provide manageable for broadcasting. However, this method has the problematic effect of losing the details in an interviewees responses – that person’s pauses and attempts to divert from the questions asked for example.  The sources for academic history suffer from the same problem whilst historical fiction is all about the detail.


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About Matt Phillpott

I am an historian of early modern Britain and the Digital Resources Manager at the School of Advanced Study. My main area of interest is in the authentication of knowledge in early print, including religious, historical, and agricultural texts.

2 thoughts on “The differences and similarities between historical fiction and academic history: Maria Margaronis

  1. This whole session was excellent, and Maria’s talk set the tone for a wide-ranging discussion about the differences and similarities between academic historical research and the writing of fiction. She was particularly interesting on the gaps in the record, and how these may be handled by researchers and novelists respectively. She used the striking example of editing down hours and hours of interviews for a documentary on the current turmoil in Greece. A huge of amount is lost as a result, and it is often the more nuanced material. Uncertainty is removed under constraints of time.

    • Maria certainly got me thinking about the nature of writing about past or present events in a slightly different way than I normally would. Reporters can only tell certain stories just like historians. But in both cases much is lost in that process. Historical fiction also has to deal with these issues not just because these are the materials that it is based on but because it needs to find realistic ways to ‘rediscover’ moments of uncertainty and personality which are actually quite difficult to find even in modern evidence.


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