42 Week Course - 42 Assignments
Our weekly assignments invite students to explore essays, book chapters, news features, lectures, podcasts, videos and websites. Each assignment requires students to engage for approximately an hour, they vary in length depending on their difficulty. Lengthy book chapters allow for students to get deep into the text whilst short videos present more challenging material whilst leaving more time for thinking.
About the Course
There are some questions that all historians, regardless of specialisation, should consider. What is history? Does the study of history have a useful purpose? Just as the interpretation of historical events changes over time, reflecting the particular concerns and milieu of each new generation, so the historian’s idea of history also mutates.
Thereafter, the list is arranged into broad time periods. Some of the articles and lectures address big, topical themes, including concepts of modernity, memory, gender and personal and public space.
Others are designed to show that the study of history involves more than reading books in libraries and that interdisciplinary methods, such as the use of genetics or satellite mapping technology, can substantially help in reconstructing the past.
History is a vast and inclusive subject. You will all be studying different periods and each of you will find some periods and parts of history more interesting than others.
I have tried to make the reading list as wide ranging as possible but there will inevitably be gaps. If you are unfamiliar with the period being discussed, please persevere: at the very worst, you may glean some new approach you can apply to your own study and at the best, you will discover a new, hitherto discounted, topic to incorporate into your study at university.
Finally, many of the source websites (especially history.ac.uk and podcasts.ox.ac.uk) are a treasure trove of lectures and podcasts, and I would recommend looking through their content to see if there is anything of particular interest or use to you.
"There are some questions that all historians, regardless of specialisation, should consider. What is history? Does the study of history have a useful purpose? Just as the interpretation of historical events changes over time, reflecting the particular concerns and milieu of each new generation, so the historian’s idea of history also mutates."
- Dr Sophie Whitaker
Meet the Course Designer
The History reading course is curated by Dr Sophie Whitaker. As an undergraduate Sophie studied Modern History at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She hugely enjoyed this but felt she hadn’t gone deep enough into the subject, so she stayed on and started a doctorate in medieval Mallorcan history. This included the huge hardship of living in Palma de Mallorca for a year, in order to do the necessary primary research.
Having successfully completed her doctorate, Sophie went on to do the Graduate Diploma of Law and Bar Professional Training Course at the College of Law (now the University of Law). Subsequently, she spent a couple of years working as a lawyer, with a particular focus on professional negligence and competition law. Currently she works as a tutor, teaching a wide range of subjects, including law and history to degree level. This is much more compatible with her other responsibility, looking after her toddler daughter.