Sunday, 31 May 2015

Digital public history: bringing the public back in

This post is a slightly different version of "Digital public history: bringing the public back in." In: Public History Weekly 3 (2015) 13, DOI: (German and French translations also available in PHW).

Digital History has reshaped the documentation methods of historians, especially their means of accessing and storing history. However, this seismic shift has occurred without any thorough critical discussion of these digital tools and practices. Digital history aims to create new forms of scholarship and new digital objects for the web.[1] But we need to ask in which ways—if any—Digital Public History (DPH) is distinct from an innovative digital history?

From Digital Humanities to Digital History

"Digital historical culture" is part of the wider "digital culture" permeating our society through the Internet. The sociological concept of digital culture was developed by Manuel Castells[2] and Willard McCarty[3]. In Italy, Tito Orlandi theorized the emergence of a new Koine based on his further development of scientific and methodological concepts of humanities computing as web-based communication processes.[4] By contrast, the digital humanities provide methodologies and practices that, analogous to the sciences, are suitable for the humanities.[5] These practices and concepts are elaborated within the various disciplines.[6] Thus, after the digital turn, digital historians are confronted with new epistemological issues when analysing  the past.[7] They plan exhibitions with memory institutions (libraries, archives, museums, and galleries) dedicated to presenting artefacts and documents ; they collect, preserve, and curate digitised and  born digital documents for these institutions;[8] they create new tools and software to support their activities; they also use social media; following  the digital turn, moreover, they are not confined to analysing written materials, but also strive to devise new forms of text-mining for processing large amounts of data between “close and distant reading” activities .[9] Digitally connected historians do not perform their profession beyond the discipline: rather, they apply their methods, traditions, and skills to deal with primary sources in different contexts and to reconstruct the past using new types of narratives.[10] Technology facilitates what is still a recognizable history profession, although digital humanities technology is part of a new historian’s craft. Historians, that is, are involved deeply in technological transformations that affect the humanities as a whole.

New practices and new tools

In the field of digital history, we are what we do and what we create. New practices and new tools define the nature and the scope of the field. Importantly, digital history corresponds not only with the tradition of the digital humanities. The question of the originality of our methods, tasks, and ultimate goals within the digital realm was raised already at an early stage in Italy; it was always clear that our priorities were quite different from those of other digital humanists.[11] Digital history, then, is about a proper epistemological dimension, one specific to historians.[12] As historians, we need to create contents, to control those contents, and to use tools in the digital realm that are different from those needed by other digital humanists confronted with literary and linguistic computing, text analysis, text encoding, and annotation. Stephen Robertson, director of the Center for History and New Media has argued, perhaps for the first time ever in the English speaking world, that digital history is different from literary studies and might be considered another discipline. His reflections influenced the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Center[13], held in the autumn of 2014,  which highlighted the importance of digital media for the history profession.[14] Robertson emphasised two points: “First, the collection, presentation, and dissemination of material online is a more central part of digital history. […] Second, in regards to digital analysis, digital history has seen more work in the area of digital mapping than has digital literary studies, where text mining and topic modeling are the predominant practices.”[15]

Digital History vs. Digital Public history

In parallel with what they write professionally about the past, historians have always queried the usefulness of their own practices in reconstructing the past. In so doing, they have explored which (other) methods or techniques might illuminate the past. Which new tools or techniques, when applied to reconstructing the past, could help transform primary sources into narratives? We first need to consider whether the historiographical process has always been communicated fruitfully to the public, not only through the written forms of scholarship typical of academic historians, but also through a differentiation between forms of communication adapted to different audiences using different media, or what Sharon M. Leon calls User-Centered Digital History.[16] Being able to translate the past into history and being able to communicate with an identified audience are essential skills for public historians, who must ask themselves “why do history if it is not for the public?” As a research field, DPH invites us to interpret the past and to prepare it for the future using technology, experiences, practices, methods, and social communication processes that underscore the need to consider what public history has already highlighted, namely, to think about audiences so as to enhance interpretation and communication processes.
Should we go further back in the genealogy of humanities computing (to the 1980s, for instance), which became the digital humanities following the rise of the Internet in the early 1990s? Perhaps not, but what is part of the conversation is to understand whether DPH differs not only from the Digital Humanities, as argued, but also from Digital History. What distinguishes DPH or what I have elsewhere called digital history 2.0 (participative, crowdsourced, networked, socially mediated history)[17] from so-called “academic“ forms of Digital History?

Digital Public History and the Civic Dimension of the Past

Web 2.0 technologies enable us to engage with different communities and their knowledge and memories worldwide, thereby adding a digital dimension to traditional public history practices. After the birth of a participatory web 2.0 around 2004, different communities started to share their past globally without the mediation of historians. On the contrary, after the digital turn oral historians-cum-mediators applied their skills as historians to conveying oral memories.[18] In the digital realm, archivists keep track of civil memories using their specific skills.[19] Might we then conclude that DPH is about how a community of people shares experiences about the past via the web, experiences that are mediated through public historians’ digital skills and expertise, in the capacities as oral historians, archivists, museum staff, etc.? Is this the dimension that defines the field as bottom-up (often crowdsourced), top-down (creation of digital multi/media forms of communicating the past), user-oriented, interactive, and shared? DPH interrelates a public, its past, and public historians whereas digital history offers new digital scholarship without requiring epistemological interaction with the public as an essential condition. Digital History “enriches” the web with new forms of narratives and findings. Unlike 2.0 crowdsourced and connected web, DH is not used primarily to engage with specific publics and to reach specific social targets. DPH instead is above all about producing history in the public sphere through interactive digital means. Taking advantage of the digital turn, DPH aims to bring new voices from the past into the present because those pasts matter and because digital technologies are suited to communicating history via and in the web.
[1] Franziska, Heimburger and Émilien Ruiz: «Has the Historian’s craft gone digital? Some observations from France», Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea, n. 10/2, 2012,
[2] Manuel Castells: The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. New York, Oxford University Press, 2001.
[3] Willard Mccarty: Humanities Computing. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
[4] Tito Orlandi: Informatica Umanistica. Roma, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1990.
[5] Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (eds.): A Companion to Digital Humanities, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004; see (last accessed 09.04.15). Clare Warwick: Digital Humanities in Practice., London, Facet Publishing, 2012; Melissa Terras, Julianne Nyhan, and Edward Vanhoutte: Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader. London, Ashgate, 2013; Pierre Mounier (ed.), Read/Write Book 2. Une introduction aux humanités numériques, Marseille, OpenEdition Press, 2012,  <>, (last accessed  09.04.15).
[6] Statistics, geo-location, the mapping of the past, visual studies, 3D reconstructions, the creation, management and analysis of big series of data’s and of digital primary sources , all these specific elements, part of a "datification" process of the world, are defining the field of digital history v. the broader area of digital humanities. (See Peter Haber: Digital Past: Geschichtswissenschaft im digitalen Zeitalter. München, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2011.)
[7] Philippe Rygiel “L’inchiesta storica in epoca digitale”in Memoria e Ricerca, n.35, 2010, pp. 185-197.
[8] A recent Canadian report on the impact of the digital revolution has universal value when it says: “Memory institutions are a window to the past. Through stories, physical objects, records, and other documentary heritage, they provide Canadians with a sense of history, a sense of place, a sense of identity, and a feeling of connectedness — who we are as a people […].” “Why Memory Institutions Matter”, in Council of Canadians Academies: Leading in the Digital World: Opportunities for Canada’s Memory Institutions. The Expert Panel on Memory Institutions and the Digital Revolution., February 2015, pp. 4-6. (last accessed 09.04.15)
[9] Franco Moretti: Distant Reading. London: Verso, 2013.
[10] See, for example, different projects (like Digital Humanities Now, ) that curate the integration of selected blog posts worldwide into new forms of digital scholarship using the PressForward plugin for WordPress (last accessed 09.04.15).
[11] “Storia e Internet: la ricerca storica all’alba del terzo millennio”, in Serge Noiret (ed.): Linguaggi e Siti: la Storia On Line, in Memoria e Ricerca, n.3, January-June 1999, pp. 7-20.
[12] Daniel J. Cohen, Max Frisch, P.Gallagher, Steven. Mintz, Kirsten Sword, A.Murrell Taylor, William G. Thomas III, and William J Turkel: “Interchange: The Promise of Digital History, in The Journal of American History, 2, 2008, pp. 452-91,  .(last accessed 09.04.15).
[13] RRCHNM: 20th Anniversary Conference, . (last accessed 09.04.15).
[14] Daniel .J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig: Digital history: a guide to gathering, preserving, and presenting the past on the Web., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005 and Clio Wired. The future of the past in the digital age. New York, Columbia University Press, 2011.
[15] Stephen Robertson: The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities. May 23, 2014 ; (last accessed 09.04.15).
[16] (last accessed 09.04.15).
[17] «Y a t-il une Histoire Numérique 2.0 ? » in Jean-Philippe Genet and Andrea Zorzi (eds.) Les historiens et l’informatique. Un métier à réinventer., Rome: Ecole Française de Rome, 2011, pp. 235-288.
[18] In her keynote lecture at the 2nd Brazilian Public History Conference (September 2014), Linda Shopes said that digital history—added to social history and the presence of a targeted audience—is now central to oral history practices. Digital techniques have given back “orality” to oral history. A digital dimension has integrated online histories into web site projects, opened up public history internationally by extending traditional oral history projects, and enhanced the capacity to share interviews in audio/video formats globally and through open access. These practices enable communities to interact in their own language. A deeper understanding of local cultures differentiates international DPH from digital history and, even more, from digital humanities activities, the latter all too often being confined to the English language. See Rede Brasileira de Historia Publica (last accessed 09.04.15).
[19] “The materials in them hold us to our values and nourish our debates on civil society. By ensuring preservation, authenticity, and access to their holdings […]  memory institutions help guarantee transparency and accountability. Indeed, authentic records and their availability are at the heart of civil governance. Archives in particular are essential for  addressing human rights concerns, often because these concerns are not identified until well after an injustice has occurred.” “Why Memory Institutions Matter”, cit.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

"The Americans": Spy Story? Dramma Coniugale? Public History della Guerra Fredda?

The Americans,[1] serie TV (35 episodi, tre serie), 2013-2015, produzione FOX (Fox 21 Television Studios e download possibile da diverse fonti, anche in un blog italiano (The Lord of Streaming) come sul sito di [2] <>.

 «Tutto è lecito in amore e in guerra fredda» è il motto della serie televisiva The Americans, che è arrivata alla terza stagione nel 2015 (una quarta stagione è prevista), riscuotendo un grande successo di critica, già dalla prima serie, e di pubblico, soprattutto dalla terza serie.[3]
Benché girati a New York, gli episodi si svolgano a Washington all’inizio degli anni ’80, con la fine del mandato di Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): le elezioni del 1980 vedono il trionfo repubblicano di Ronald Reagan, presidente per due mandati dal 1981 al 1989. La prima serie, andata in onda nel 2013, comincia infatti poco dopo il 1980 e la nascita di una politica estera marcatamente anti-comunista da parte di Reagan, che segna la fine della politica di détente elaborata da Carter dopo la guerra del Vietnam; si tratta di una radicalizzazione che accelera la lenta disintegrazione dello Stato sovietico durante il decennio.[4]the-americans demi
Il regista Joe (Joseph) Weisberg (1966-) ci offre con The Americans una trama suggestiva nella quale si intrecciano le vicenda familiari e amorose di una coppia di spietate spie sovietiche trapiantate negli Stati Uniti da anni: Phillip (Matthew Rhys) e Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell). I Jennings posseggono una piccola agenzia di viaggio che permette di giustificare numerosi spostamenti e di coprire cosi le loro attività spionistiche.[5]
Weisberg, cresciuto in una famiglia ebraica,  si è laureato a Yale, dopo aver seguito corsi di storia russa nell’epoca Reagan, e nel 1990 decide di lavorare per la Cia, rompendo con il suo ambiente “liberal” di origine. Le sue scelte e la sua esperienza nei servizi segreti americani diventarono romanzo -scritto dopo essersene allontanato dopo la morte del padre nel 1997.[6]
Infatti l’a. della serie scrive un scenario molto “storico”, anche se le gesta delle nostre spie sono solo ispirate a fatti realmente accaduti: certamente la sua esperienza diretta alla Cia è servita per tracciare il personaggio di Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich), l’agente dell’FBI che si occupa di controspionaggio e, in modo particolare, di scoprire le attività segrete dei sovietici, non esitando ad uccidere se necessario come, d’altronde, i Jennings. In The Americans Beeman si confronta direttamente con la coppia dei Jennings, suoi vicini di casa in un sobborgo residenziale, emblema del sogno della media-borghesia americana.
Quanto ai due protagonisti - Phillip e Elizabeth – secondo la trama si sono conosciuti all’università in Unione Sovietica, dopo sono entrati nel Kgb, e successivamente si sono sposati per nascondere le loro attività negli Stati Uniti. Alcuni flashback mostrano Elizabeth in Russia mentre si prepara al mestiere di spia. Con il passare degli episodi i due vengono raffigurati con differenze sempre più acute: Phillip esegue gli ordini, ma sempre con fare dubbioso, e risente del fascino del capitalismo e del sistema dei consumi americano, mentre Elizabeth rimane fanaticamente impermeabile alle lusinghe del benessere occidentale ed è pronta ad eseguire senza alcuna discussione gli ordini che le vengono dati.
iTunes   Podcasts   The Americans  Slate TV Club Insider by Slate Magazine
"The creators, cast, and crew of FX’s original drama The Americans reveal behind-the-scenes details about the making of each episode in Season 3. The podcast [was] released shortly after The Americans airs on FX each Wednesday at 10 pm Eastern and Pacific. "

Nella terza serie il Kgb richiede di arruolare anche la figlia adolescente Paige. La madre è pronta ad acconsentire, mentre  Philip si oppone, ritenendo che per i loro figli sia preferibile rimanere fuori da attività clandestine estremamente  pericolose visto che entrambi i genitori rischiano quotidianamente la vita.
The Jennings Family in the 3rd Series - La Famiglia dei Jennings nella terza Serie di "The Americans
Nella “vita normale” i protagonisti Phillip e il suo  amico Stan si confidano le reciproche traversie  sentimentali. Molto probabilmente Weisberg si  riconosce nell’agente dell’FBI Beeman, un  personaggio che viene raffigurato come leale al suo  paese, ma con un matrimonio in piena crisi e  sensibile alle attenzioni della bella spia Nina  Krilova (Annet Mahendru) addetta dell’ambasciata  sovietica. La giovane e ambiziosa Nina oscilla tra la  voglia di svolgere bene il proprio lavoro per  l’ambasciata e, invece, la tentazione di lasciare  tutto e di inserirsi negli Stati Uniti grazie a  Beeman, diventato suo amante.
Il «New York Times» nel gennaio 2013, dopo l’uscita dei primi episodi, ha sottolineato la capacità di Weisberg di mettere in scena il mondo dello spionaggio a partire dall'esperienza da lui vissuta: anche Weisberg ricorda quanto sia stato difficile destreggiarsi tra vita privata, famiglia e la professione di spia, che chiede continuamente di ricorrere alla menzogna.[7] E in un intervista a Slate Weisberg ha spiegato che la serie oscilla tra un'interpretazione intimista: la famiglia di spie alle prese con relazioni coniugali tese e una storia più globale che rendesse conto delle tensioni dell'ultimo periodo di guerra fredda.
La storia è centrale nella presentazione di ogni episodio: fonti audiovisive, fotografie, documenti d’epoca, ritratti dei protagonisti di allora come Reagan, e oggetti simbolici di propaganda e emblemi dell’epoca tardo-sovietica riassumono le coordinate di quell'ultima parte della guerra fredda contro il comunismo.[8] Ma non è una serie propriamente storica, che intende presentare un racconto storico della guerra fredda. Nondimeno la sua grande capacità attrattiva risiede nella ricostruzione di ambienti - nell’epoca finale della guerra fredda – in cui si ritrovano intrecci tra missioni pericolose  e relazioni familiari. La storia delle tensioni tra Russia sovietica e Stati Uniti degli anni ’80 serve di sfondo al racconto delle missioni spionistiche, che si muovono tra il dispiegamento degli SS-20 in Europa dell’Est, la risposta americana con i missili Cruise, la fuga dei cervelli sovietici negli Usa dove lavorano anche a programmi militari nuovi come quello degli Stealth, gli aerei invisibili, e così via.[9]
La storia “si vede” soprattutto quando i personaggi accendono la televisione, quando si ha notizia della campagna Carter-Reagan e dell’elezione dell’ex-governatore della California e, soprattutto, dell’impatto sulle nuove relazioni con i sovietici, della violenta polemica anti-comunista di Reagan. Ad esempio l’attentato del 30 marzo 1981 a Washington, ad opera di uno squilibrato, è evocato nella seconda serie, attraverso immagini alla televisione, dove il segretario di Stato di allora, Alexander Haigh,  interviene per rassicurare il paese.
Benché “sfumata”, la storia è onnipresente soprattutto nei dettagli maniacali della vita materiale di allora: le case, le macchine, i vestiti, i tagli di cappelli, gli oggetti di consumo, ecc.  Chi ha vissuto gli anni precedenti il crollo del muro di Berlino si immerge immediatamente negli ambienti ricostruiti da The Americans, rivivendo i colpi di coda dell’Orso sovietico sempre più incapace di mantenere il passo dello sviluppo economico e militare della potenza americana e di rimanere una potenza globale. A titolo di esempio, di questo divario crescente si trovano tracce nello sconforto di Philip alla notizia della perdita di sottomarino nucleare sovietico e dell’equipaggio per colpa di problemi tecnologici.
Nel frattempo, la coppia protagonista è alle prese con richieste sempre più pressanti in provenienza da Mosca, e oggetto di attività del controspionaggio americano. Nella serie TV si trovano ricostruite anche le lotte intestine nell’apparato sovietico, i diversi livelli di poteri e di ordini, talvolta anche contradditori, le multiple forme di sorveglianza che gli agenti dovevano subire da parte della madrepatria.
Chi scrive ha visto la serie con due figli adolescenti, non particolarmente appassionati alla storia come viene insegnata a scuola in Italia. Nondimeno, sembrano aver apprezzato la lezione di Public History che questa serie Tv offre per ricostruire il clima della guerra fredda nel corso degli anni ’80. I due ragazzi  - oltre a non perdersi nessun episodio - si sono incuriositi di quest’epoca, interessandosi della dinamica psicologica fra genitori e figli della famiglia Jennings. Il figlio ancora pre-adolescente Henry Jennings di 12 anni e, soprattutto, la figlia Paige di 14 anni, si scontrano contro un’autorità genitoriale che non riescono più a capire. Paige si ribella e cerca nelle comunità evangeliche del suo quartiere e nella bibbia un senso alla sua vita. La giovane Jennings cercherà anche di impegnarsi politicamente e socialmente grazie alla parrocchia, accrescendo il contrasto con l’ideologia e la cultura atea materna.
Si tratta di un dramma familiare che appassiona gli spettatori e che rende consuete anche le figure dei protagonisti, che si dibattono fra dilemmi di fedeltà alla patria, attrazione verso il sogno americano, difficoltà di vivere le relazioni di coppia e quella genitori-figli, in un modo da far rivivere quel mondo del pre-1989, che sembra scomparso così rapidamente dalla nostra memoria.
[1] The Americans, .
[2] Dettagli tecnici sulla serie “The Americans” si trovano nella banca dati Internet Movie Database (IMBd), . Altre informazioni sono disponibili nella  en.Wikipedia,  e nella it.Wikipedia .
[3] Per alcuni dati statistici sul numero di visioni delle serie tra la prima e la terza, vedere The Americans” renewed for Fourth Season”, di Lesley Goldberg, in The Hollywood Reporter, 31 marzo 2015, .
[4] Cfr. M. Del Pero, “Morning in America”: la storiografia scopre Ronald Reagan, in «Storica», 13/38 (2007), pp. 9-31.
[5] Cfr. P. Deery e M. Del Pero: Spiare e tradire: dietro le quinte della guerra fredda, Milano, Feltrinelli, 2011.
[6] Cfr. J. Weinsberg, An Ordinary Spy: A Novel, New York, Bloomsbury USA, 2008.
[8] Sulla politica dei conservatori americani sotto Nixon e Ford, si veda di Mario Del Pero: Henry Kissinger e l'ascesa dei neoconservatori: alle origini della politica estera americana., Bari: Laterza, 2006 e dello stesso autore su Reagan: "Morning in America": la Storiografia scopre Ronald Reagan.", cit..
[9] Leopoldo Nuti, Leopoldo, Frédéric Bozo, Marie-Pierre Rey and Bernd Rother, (a cura di): The Euromissile Crisis and the End of the Cold War. Stanford/Washington DC: Stanford University Press/Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2015.

Friday, 1 May 2015

A First Master in "Histoire Publique" at Paris Est Créteil will start in September 2015

Master 2 - Public History - UPEC

Promoted by Catherine Brice, contemporary history professor  interested in cultural studies and material culture -Brice is well known for her work on 19th century Italy-, a first French Master in Public history will be launched for the academic year 2015-2016 at the Université de Paris Est, Créteil -Val de Marne (UPEC - University of Paris East, Créteil).
Why introducing in France "a discipline without the name" until nowadays, "l'histoire publique", translated from the English expression "public history"?

Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on "Teaching Public History" coordinated by Thomas Cauvin
Maybe Catherine's participation in the IFPH Working Group on "Teaching Public History," during the 2013 annual meeting of the National Council for Public History (Ottawa, Canada) is one of the reasons for this choice? Thomas Cauvin, now professor of Public History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, coordinated the Ottawa NCPH-IFPH roundtable. Many participants from all continents shared idea's, experiences, reflections on how best creating programs of public history worldwide around common concepts and teaching activities. The round-table looked at  some specific needs for international public history teaching programs.
Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on "Teaching Public History" coordinated by Thomas Cauvin
Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on "Teaching Public History" coordinated by Thomas Cauvin
Two years after the workshop, Prof. Brice is offering a rich, multifaceted, master who should promote the field in France focusing especially on history communication processes and the media used to transmit new forms of narratives and storytelling. Alternative forms of narrative may be developed being aware of how best using new technologies and the media within a web 2.0 environment. Working with different media and the public, requests new applied professional training that aren't thought in traditional academic history programs. At Paris Est-Créteil, the master would like to teach these new professional skills to people interested in knowing better about alternative careers with the past and the media, new communication processes and technologies needed to work with and for the public sharing historical narratives.

We have asked Prof.Brice why such a master (and why now?) so to understand better the reasons behind the creation of a challenging public history program within French universities. Here is what she told us first in French (see original below) and then in English.

Prof. Catherine Brice
Prof. Catherine Brice
"The Paris-Est Créteil History Department will start in September 2015, a 2nd level Master in Public History. This will be the first Master of this kind  in France. Two observations fostered such an innovative decision. First of all, there's a social demand for history that continues to grow; this is a demand for popular history through new forms of publications, radio, television, the web ....  This request is coming from the general public. But at the same time, we realized that increasingly different actors are looking for history narratives: private companies, local authorities, cultural institutions, etc.. The presence of Memory at national level, but also the growing interest by commercial firms to communicate a narrative also about the history of their products, their brands, their expertise, testifies about a global public need for history. However, it is rare that historians are solicited as experts of the past if not at the very end of the process and sometimes only to document the past. A second observation is that history is a wonderful discipline to teach critical thinking, the capacity to dominate primary sources and to make them speak about the past. Today, history students in France do not always want to become teachers. At the crossroads of these two main considerations, it seemed that, trying the adventure of public history based on the experience of what exists in other countries, answers both the social demand and  students' aspirations for their future in the job market. By offering a curriculum that combines theoretical issues dealing with memory, history and the public, offering seminars made by professional  for teaching master students how to handle historical discourses, promoting professional internships that will immerse them in the job market, we hope to offer to young historians, the instruments and the practices needed to making history through other channels" (See in French original answer)

The leaflet of the course is bilingual, we reproduce here the English version. We hope, as IFPH-FIHP, these new teaching programs in public history and the communication of history will extend themselves widely in other continental European countries: similar masters programs are a good way to open continental European universities to the field and its practices.

Serge Noiret



Desire for History, Desire for stories

Public History is the history produced for the wide audience. It is the history that we see represented in films, documentaries, websites, historical novels, magazines and museums. It is the history put in the  service of the political memory of the city, of public institutions, or of specific social groups and  enterprises. It is the history which is seen, listened, read and appreciated by millions of people in the  cinemas, on the TV, in books and in visits.
  • Public history is a recognized discipline, which is taught all around the world, from the United States, Canada, and the UK, to Germany, Latin America and China.
  • The Master in Public History addresses to students who have already been trained as historians and who would like to learn how to adapt their work to the new reality and new means of doing history. The specialists in Public History will learn how to combine academic historical skills with different techniques of communication (magazines, radio, TV, web, corporate communications etc.).
  • This Master will enable students to apply for jobs offered by various institutions which seek, in one way or another, to make history public (companies, local communities, museums, radio and TV production companies, publishing houses etc.). Jobs could include web editor, editorial assistant, writer (historical cartoons, documentaries), etc.
The first Master of Public History in France
The Master 2 in Public History will open at UPEC in September 2015. This will be the first Master of this sort in France, which is designed to give young historians the necessary academic and technical skills to meet the growing demands of society and of their profession. It is aimed at students with a Master 1 in History.
The Master 2 in Public History has an international dimension brought by an agreement with the University of Trieste.
First semester: Courses will be taught by professors and researchers of the UPEC and by other professionals. They will include theory ("History, Memory, publics") and practice ("Writing public history”, "History and web", "History, TV and radio," etc.), as well as international training in English and training in historical research.
A tutored project will allow students to work in a professional environment.
A trip to Trieste (Italy) will strengthen the international dimension of the Master 2 in Public History. An Erasmus agreement is already in place with the University of Trieste.
Second semester: Students will conduct an internship of 4 to 6 months (in a company, a museum, a publishing house, radio, TV etc.). At the end of their internship they will have to present a report. They will be followed by a tutor from the UPEC, who will work in collaboration with the host institution of the trainees.
The knowledge of English is required for this course.
How to apply?
Send your application, including an analytical CV and a letter of motivation, by ordinary mail and by email, within July 1, to:
  • Ordinary mail: Marylin DAHERON , UPEC, CRHEC, Secrétariat des masters, 61 avenue du Général de Gaulle, 9400 CRETEIL
  • Email :
An oral interview will be held between 1 and 15 July. Your registration to the Master is subject to obtaining your degree M1 before the start of the courses.
Contacts : Catherine Brice, Professeur d’histoire contemporaine à l’UPEC,
Jérôme Bazin, Maître de conférence en histoire contemporaine à l’UPEC,
Virginie Mathé, Maîtresse de conférence en histoire ancienne à l’UPEC,
Original in French 

"Le département d'histoire de Paris-Est Créteil lance, en septembre 2015, un master 2 professionnalisant d'Histoire Publique. Ce sera le premier en France. Cette décision part d'un double constat: tout d'abord une demande sociale en histoire qui ne cesse de s'amplifier, se manifestant par des publications de divulgation historique, des émissions de radio, de télévision...Une demande venant du grand public, donc. Mais en même temps on s'aperçoit que répondent à cette demande des acteurs de plus en plus diversifiés : entreprises, collectivités locales, institutions. Les vagues mémorielles, au niveau national, mais aussi l'intérêt toujours croissant des entreprises à communiquer sur l'histoire de leurs produits, de leurs marques, de leurs savoir-faire en témoignent. Pourtant, il est rare que les historiens soient sollicités autrement qu'en bout de chaîne, dans une fonction d'expertise ou de simple documentation. Et, second constat, l'histoire est une formidable discipline de pensée, d'esprit critique, de maîtrise des sources et de leur restitution. Or tous les étudiants qui font de l'histoire en France jusqu'au Master  n'ont pas toujours envie de devenir enseignant. A la croisée de ces deux constats, il nous a semblé que tenter l'aventure de l'histoire publique en s'appuyant sur l'expérience de ce qui existe ailleurs répond à la fois à cette demande sociale et aux aspirations des étudiants. En leur proposant un cursus alliant enseignement théorique sur les enjeux de liens entre mémoire, histoire et publics, des enseignements faits par des professionnels destinées à leur apprendre à manier la divulgation historique, et un stage en entreprise qui les immergera dans le monde du travail, on espère ainsi donner à de jeunes historiens les moyens de continuer à faire de l'histoire, autrement".