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School of History


16 March 2015

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: ArtsTwo Lecture Theatre, ArtsTwo Building, QMUL

Differences, similarities and alternative histories: the Anglo-French relationship

We are all influenced by the power of narratives, which often make up the core of our national histories. This is especially true of politicians, but it is also true of historians. National narratives can affect the choice of subjects that they study, and the histories that they write. These narratives, absorbed from a historian’s national context and influenced by generations of previous historians, can even lead to assumptions about what is inevitable, and what progress means. In order to become more aware of their power and influence, Professor Robert Tombs will identify common themes in the national stories in France and in Britain, to see how they have influenced the relationship between the two nations over the centuries. He will challenge the idea that things should have always been this way and will look at moments when other outcomes were possible, even likely. 

Robert Tombs's main area of research has been nineteenth-century French political history, and especially popular political culture. He has been particularly concerned with the Paris Commune of 1871 and with French nationalism from the 1830s to 1914. He has also worked on the history of the relationship between the French and the British, from the end of the seventeenth century to the present day, including the cultural and economic as well as the political and military spheres. His most recent book is The English and Their History (2014), but he continues to work and publish on French history and on French attitudes to Britain

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