The field of historical consciousness is one of the richest areas of thought and study in the humanities and social sciences. This conference will focus on both the concept of historical consciousness and how representations of the past help us to make sense of the present. Divided into three sections, the conference will consider the challenges historians face in engaging the public in a dialogue about the past.
EXPLORING HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS
In recent decades, major research, both in Canada and aborad,
has sought to deepen our understanding of how ordinary people
engage the past. The results of these studies raise important
questions about effective strategies for connecting people with history for the express purposes of adding to their storehouse of knowledge, enriching their existence, and developing their critical faculties.
DEVELOPING HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS
Without abandoning rigour and relevance, how can one assist
people to develop their historical consciousness in useful and satisfying ways? This is one of the challenges that historians face on a daily basis in museums, parks, historical sites, classrooms or the media. Faced with a diverse public that is increasingly demanding in its quest for knowledge and pleasure, how can one reconcile the methodical, the critical, and pleasurable aspects of history?
HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE FUTURE
Historical consciousness concerns the present and the future as much as it does the past. It is fundamental for the evolution of societies. It can be the factor that disrupts individual and collective well-being or facilitates it. In extreme cases, understandings of the past can usurp the right of people to rethink their world. The narrative of the past also possesses regenerating and liberating properties. With so much at stake, what narratives should be priviledged and how do we we teach the past in our classrooms? These are just two questions that demonstrate the extent to which historian’s craft is complicated and dangerous.
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