When does current affairs become history? Or am I now utterly past it?

(11 Posts)
meditrina Tue 18-Sep-12 13:01:06

I can remember my DM having a little chuckle that my modern history syllabus went up to the start of WW2, as that was current events to her.

I've noticed a couple of things that (probably much younger) posters refer to as history, but I remember unfolding.

Now, I'll accept I'm an old biddy (if I must), but sure history could at least mean 'before your parents were born'? (OK, take a standard not actual generation length for that). More recent than that really does seem like current events, especially with items that are still in flux.

When did your courses cut off? When does history end and current events begin? Does it actually matter other than in setting a syllabus?

Saltire Tue 18-Sep-12 13:15:40

I don't know when it's classed as history, but DS1 is 14 and has covered
Miners Strike
Falklands Conflict
Fall of Berlin Wall. in history at school

all of which happened in my childhood/teen years.
So to me it's recent, not history!hmm

throckenholt Tue 18-Sep-12 19:05:51

Wow - I was a grown up for 2 of those 3 - and a teenager for the other. I feel old ! My o level went from 1815-1914 - all the really boring bits about the balance of European power post the Napoleonic wars and before the first world war (or so it felt at the time). I would probably find it much more interesting now.

Current affairs are usually influenced by history and it is always open to argument when one merges into the other.

LeeCoakley Tue 18-Sep-12 19:14:06

Imo something is historical when it's done and dusted and we can look on it with hindsight.

meditrina Tue 18-Sep-12 21:10:12

I was grown up for all saltire's examples.

But one I thought was going for too far was from OCR's 2009 GCSE syllabus, whose modern "history" component ran right up to 2005, and one featured question was on causes of the 2003 Iraq War. How on earth do they assess a historically sound version of that?

throckenholt Wed 19-Sep-12 08:04:43

Hmm - maybe that is what defines it - being sufficiently removed from it in time to be able to be more objective about it ? And that will vary from person to person and event to event. I may well be able to be objective about x while someone closer to it (more involved at the time) probably won't be.

Paleodad Wed 19-Sep-12 09:52:19

i come at this from a more archaeological point of view, but it's all about how you contextualise the past. In my (humble) opinion, once it's happened, once it is in the past, it's history.

The past is never really "done and dusted" as we can only interpret events from our own standpoint as history unfolds; in effect the past is continually re-made according to contemporary values and conditions, values that have evolved through those events we view as 'history'.

A good example of this are recent debates about roman history/archaeology. Many people now argue that the way in which scholars in the past (perhaps the last 150 years) interpreted the Roman imperial past was very much coloured by the imperial present in which they were living; that is to say, positive views about British imperial ambitions (e.g. civilising barbaric people/places) may lead people to view the Roman Empire as a generally 'Good Thing'. In these 'post-colonial' times, it becomes as important to deconstruct these views alongside the authentic Roman past.

In this sense true objectivity can be seen to be a myth, and rather we must try to be as objective as possible, while trying to understand our subjective limitations.
Knowing this we can study events that happened yesterday as 'history' as easily as events that happened 200 years ago, or even as far back as the paleolithic.

throckenholt Wed 19-Sep-12 10:46:18

True - the interpretation of history is always coloured by the present context. And by the fact that most history is written by the winners.

Absy Wed 19-Sep-12 10:50:26

When I did my degree, one of my professor's said that it should be things that happened at least 20 years ago, so you have time to consider and discuss and digest. But I don't think that's really kept to (on my degree course we were taught stuff that happened until around mid 1990s, and I started my degree in 2001) and there isn't (as far as I know) and official "cut off" point.

I would say that there should be sufficient distance between now and the event, for reflection, reviewing more sides to the argument and a degree of objectivity.

vvviola Thu 20-Sep-12 07:59:08

My history course at school ended in mid-60s. However I learnt that this doesn't mean everything then is considered history ... for example.

Conversation with (i.e. listening v attentively to) 2 very senior bosses talk about major world event they were involved in (I was an international super spy in a former life grin). They ask me a question, to which I respond "oh yes, I learnt about that in history class". Did. Not. Go. Down. Well. blushblush

Saltire Thu 20-Sep-12 13:35:16

vvviola - so poeple would still have WW2 relatively fresh in their minds in the 60s so I wonder if people such as your parents who probably lived through it would consider it to be "your" history. IYSWIM!

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