Handling 'Dangerous Tosh'

Year: 2016

Author: Staats, John

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the new ways of teaching history that is inclusive, multi-modal and engages the whole person as a learner – ‘heads, hands and hearts’. Drawing on methodologies and successes in history sister disciplines of anthropology, material culture studies, archaeology and museum studies, the paper makes a case for exploring new ways of ‘doing history’ (and redefining and expanding history ‘signature pedagogy’) beyond the strictures imposed by the Rankian text-focussed, archival traditions that continue to pre-dominate. The paper examines the hostility from academic historians towards new, cross- disciplinary forms of ‘history-making’, a hostility especially directed towards popular, public, embodied and performative forms of history–making such as the ‘living history’ and historical re-enactment movements. The author’s own fieldwork in the area of historical re-enactment, using the anthropological approach of ‘participant-observer’, is presented; it explores how haptic approaches trigger both intellectual and affective engagement with the past and through it, new understandings to enrich the practice of teaching history.