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In a series of discussions organised by the Institute of Historical Research and History Today, leading historians and commentators will look at the challenges posed by today’s world for our understanding of the past, and how the past informs our contemporary understanding. 

Lecture: 18:30-20:00  

Advance registration online for each lecture is required. 

For further details about the lecture series, visit the dedicated website


  • General Admission: £15.00 per lecture 
  • Concession rate (IHR Friends/Students/ History Today subscribers): £10.00 per lecture 

Lecture 1 
Thursday 22 March 2018History and religion 
Speakers: Tom Holland, Eleanor Parker and Alec Ryrie 

Neil MacGregor, curator of the British Museum’s Living with Gods exhibition, has claimed that western Europeans may become the first people in history to live ‘without an agreed narrative of our communal place in the cosmos’. Yet in the first two decades of the 21st century, the rest of the world has seen the ‘return of religion’. How does an increasingly secularised West understand its and others religious past – and the religious present? 

Lecture 2 
Thursday 19 April 2018History in a post-fact, post-truth world 
Speakers: David Wootton, Justin Champion & Alice Taylor 

Our panel of specially-invited speakers examines how history is being used and manipulated in the age of ‘fake news’, and how historians should respond to wider debates about the past. 

Lecture 3 
Thursday 17 May 2018History beyond borders 
Speakers: Daniel Beer, Edith Hall and Katherine McDonald.  

‘If you want to study anything more than the sewer system of 19th-century Manchester’, warns the historian Geoffrey Parker, ‘you need to learn languages.’ But language learning in the UK, both modern and ancient, is in crisis. Historians examine the relationship between history, languages and the appreciation of the past, and consider ways to address the decline.  

Lecture 4 
Thursday 21 June 2018Historical knowledge and public history 
Speakers: David Olusoga, Anna Whitelock and Helen Castor

A panel of historians and media figures discuss how the opening up of history to a wider audience places special demands on those communicating the past. What are the factors that shape how history is presented in museums, in the media and online; and who gets to write and present it?