Reengineered as a history girl

Posted: 08/05/2006 in Daily Grumbling

When we were in Rome my mum and brother were amused by my enthusiasm for all things historical. Dragging them from one set of ruins to another, and from mosaic to arch. Prior to my classical conversion I had little interest in the past, in fact I would go as far as saying that for me history was something to be mined for the purposes for Blackadder. High school history lessons left me cold; it seemed an abstract subject (since the curriculum only concentrated on a few “key” areas) in comparison to something more encompassing like geography or science. To me, history was full of deadly dull people and there was little coverage of countries, empires and glory. Looking back it seems ludicrous that the subject had been thinned down to WW1&2 and women. And by women I mean the antics of the suffrages, Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole (of course we weren’t taught about the Crimean war). There was a strong emphasis on how history was sexist and why wasn’t it “her-story” (all very Greenham Common). Being someone who has never felt discriminated by the term “man” or “mankind” I thought the whole her-story shenanigans sounded like sour grapes. So, by the time I was 14 and started studying for my GCSE’s I had dropped history and thought that was that until I was reborn as a zealot. Now I get excited by my subscription to the BBC History magazine, the History Matters campaign and Stephen Fry’s speech.

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