Chaired by the IHR’s Dr Jane Winters our concluding roundtable looked at the questions that had come up over the course of the conference.  What is the relationship between historical fiction and academic history?  Is there a problem within the writing of academic history itself which limits its potential?  Has historical fiction begun to enter a new period in its own history – has Hilary Mantel initiated a different form of historical fiction?

Although we are unable to supply the entire podcast from the Roundtable we have produced the responses for two of the questions raised for you.

[Notes: the audio quality of this podcast is poor in places due to the difficulty in placing the audio recorders in places where they could adequately pick up sound during the roundtable]


Question 1: Throughout this conference it has been claimed that historical fiction enables readers to reach the human experience in a way unachievable by academic history.  Indeed, it seems to be perceived that academic history cannot get to the human experience.  Is that true?

Question 2: There has been a lot of talk about the importance of authenticity for both acdemic history and historical fiction.  How do writers of both forms deal with the need to write for your own times and for your own generation?  How does those requirements impact upon authenticity?

Please see the Podcasts feed for audio files

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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.

1 thought on “Roundtable

  1. At the heart of these conversations seems to be a basic question about the perception of the public (and through the public the media and government as well) of what academic history and historical fiction should be, what they should be able to do, and how they should differ.

    Historical fiction is perceived as able to get closer to the past as it is not limited by its source material but it is also viewed as enjoyable. The perception of academic history is that it is dull. Admittedly much academic work can be dull; but there is also a lot there that can provide fun, interesting and academic content. Ian Mortimer mentioned the REF as a hindrance to academic history to ‘better itself’. Do other people agree?


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