Jo Guldi and David Armitage’s The History Manifesto was published in autumn 2014 by Cambridge University Press. Polemical and forceful, it is a ‘call to arms to historians and everyone interested in the role of history in contemporary society’. Guldi and Armitage argue that historians should think big – addressing long-term processes of historical change, insisting on the contemporary relevance of the past, and striving to engage with public debates and policy-making in the present.
The History Manifesto echoes many of the ideas set out in the first collaborative working paper published by Modern British Studies at Birmingham, and our ongoing conversations with historians in and beyond the academy. It has generated a great deal of welcome discussion about the place of history and the historian in a modern and globalized world. For these reasons we discussed the book as part of our regular reading group.
This blog sets out the immediate responses of the members of faculty and postgraduate research students who participated in that discussion. All these short responses appear unedited. In responding to The History Manifesto in this way, we hope to think seriously and critically about Guldi and Armitage’s ‘call to arms’, and to use it as a prompt for our continued efforts to make Modern British Studies at Birmingham a site of democratic citizenship in the university and beyond.