Australian historian Greg Dening once remarked that if history is a performance then historians are the performers. Nineteen graduate students taking Professor David Dean’s MA seminar Narrativity and Performance in Public History put Denning’s theory to the test last winter.

For Narrativity and Performance, students were asked to produce and perform a piece of work on a history that they had an interest in.

After exploring  theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches, the class interacted with Ottawa based storyteller Ruth Stewart-Verger, Skyped with UK performance scholar Dr. Lisa Peschel about her recovery of Holocaust plays and cabarets, and took advantage of Carleton University Art Gallery’s artists talks and a performance of Hannah Moscovitch’s (recent Trillium award-winning) play, This is War, at the Great Canadian Theatre Company. How historical arguments and meaning are represented through storytelling, and thinking reflexively about their roles as historians in the process of history-making, were the key objectives of the seminar.

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