Public Audience Essay

The second assessment task for Research Literacies was the Public Audience Essay. This required us to write a piece on a topic related to our individual research areas but for a non-specialist audience. This was an exciting opportunity for me to explore some of the things that I might like to actually write about without the pressure of having to write a full in-depth academic paper on it. I ended up going down the route of looking at how representations of history reflect both how we understand that history and how we understand ourselves in the present. Specifically, I looked at how history whether consciously or unconsciously is used to justify or make statements about gender politics in the present. I looked at what’s going on at the moment, particularly the idea of postfeminism. I explain what this is in the article, but just quickly, the general consensus is that it is the current state of feminism where it is assumed that the goals of second-wave feminism have been achieved and thus, feminism is no longer necessary. This assumption then serves to obscure and preserve sexism and sexist attitudes. I then looked at how this is reflected in Game of Thrones which despite not being a historical show per se, is still made and interpreted in the context of medieval history. This is clear in the way that showrunners and critics respond to criticism of female representation in the show by citing historical accuracy to a quasi-Medieval setting. I wanted to explore why these justifications are used and what it means for contemporary society when the attitudes towards women and women’s issues represented in the show are so readily accepted by popular culture.
When I was doing my research into examples of how to write articles for non-specialist audiences I read a lot of articles in BBC History Magazine so I had that publication in mind when I actually came to write the article. It was that style that I was attempting to ape. I had in mind an audience of people that were interested in history, whether they had a level of training or not. I hope you enjoy it.

The Use and Abuse of History – Elizabeth Jones

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