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Title: Scholarly and public histories : a case study of Lincolnshire, agriculture and museums
Author: Hunt, Abigail
Awarding Body: University of Lincoln
Current Institution: University of Lincoln
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis is an exploration of the complex relationship between academic, popular and museum histories. A central theme to the research is that nostalgia currently keeps these categories of history quite separate from one another, as academic historians are critical of the use of nostalgia in presenting the past, whereas popular histories are often steeped in nostalgia, as are historical narratives presented in museums. I argue that nostalgia and nostalgic sources should not be viewed as problematic by historians, but embraced simply as another type of historical source. Popular histories, rich in nostalgia, and often reliant on memories should also be considered more favourably by academics as they serve to engage people with historical narratives as both contributors and consumers. The inclusion of nostalgic sources, such as memoirs and oral histories, in historical narratives can also result in the production of new or relative histories, which enrich the historical past presented to us, and open up fresh debates on well covered topics. Nor is nostalgia problematic in museums as it helps visitors relate to, and understand, the stories presented to them. Nostalgia can also motivate people to donate objects to museums, and therefore to have an active role in how the past is represented within museums. Once again this serves to produce a more complex narrative for the visitor that can broaden our understanding of the past. These ideas are presented through two case studies of agricultural change in Lincolnshire between 1850 and 1980, and a case study of museums in the county. The historical narratives were produced using a range of primary and secondary sources, including oral histories and memoirs. The inclusion of non- ii traditional sources aided in the production of new accounts of changes in the labour patterns of women and children, and of increased mechanisation during the period. Both chapters reposition agricultural modernity in history, demonstrating that the shift from traditional to modern practices did not occur immediately after World War Two, but over a period of 30 years from the 1930s to the 1960s. The museological case study explores how the past is represented in museums and the factors that shape this. Museums in Lincolnshire were surveyed, and professionals working in them were interviewed, to ascertain how they present historical narratives around agricultural changes, and how nostalgia relates to this. It was found that nostalgia had very little impact on how the past was presented in the museums, but the processes of donation and collection, the lack of specialist knowledge in the sector, and external political factors had a significant impact on the presentation of the past in these institutions. The thesis argues that those involved with academic, popular, and museum histories should work collaboratively to explore ways of incorporating nostalgic sources into historical narratives to develop new interpretations of the past. They should also work in partnership to move away from the traditional museological ‘nostalgia debate’ to resolve the issues that currently affect how the past is presented in museums.
Supervisor: Hill, Kate; Walker, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: V214 English History ; P131 Museum studies ; V140 Modern History