Conference: Reframing History: Film, TV & the Historians




22nd JUNE 2012

The conference’s aim is to provide an engaging forum to explore the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration between historians, film-makers and broadcasters concerned with the public communication of historical understanding in Ireland as we approach a ‘decade of anniversaries’. The conference is open to the general public.

Conference Organisers:  Professor Des Bell and Dr Fearghal McGarry

In a divided society which has experienced long-term political conflict the ‘memorialization of history’ represents a distinctive challenge for historians, programme-makers and educationalists.

Filmmakers regularly employ historians to advise on the accuracy of their work, while historians acknowledge the pedagogic value and communicational power of film and television. Indeed the evidence is that the public increasingly get their historical information from broadcast and film sources. But is the historical film a populist form which necessarily involves the ‘dumbing down’ of academic history? On the other hand, can the inclusion of historical film – whether factual or fictive – within the television schedule and on cinema screens extend access to historical understanding to a broader range of people than the specialist texts of academic history? In what ways does the approach of film-makers to the narration of history differ from the orthodox writing of historians? This conference proceeds from the assumption that to maximise the potential of film to facilitate historical understanding we need to forge more effective partnerships between historians, media scholars, film-makers and broadcasters. The conference programme addresses the following:

– public commemoration of history and the role of filmed history in post-conflict reconciliation – notions of authority, objectivity and balance in television history in Ireland

– the engagement of the documentary film with personal testimony, collective memory and communal myth

– the use of archive and found footage in historical documentaries and the differing ways historians and film makers approach this ‘data’ as both evidential and expressive source

Venue: Queen’s Film Theatre, University Square

Booking info: Price: £10-00 – adults, £5-00 – students (Booking online)
REGISTER:  Register  at

For further details about the conference please contact Desmond Bell (


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