Bringing history home

  • Date

    Wed 22 Apr 20

A gold coin depicting the bust of Charles I

Britain’s bloodiest war, the eighteenth-century Mosquito Coast, and a whistle-stop tour of Zimbabwe’s history are the first subjects to be covered by a new online lockdown learning initiative launched by Essex researchers.

History Indoors will bring the past to life with weekly interactive talks for all, delivered by Zoom.

It’s the brainchild of Michael Sewell and Lewis Smith, two research students from the Department of History.

“We wanted to do something that would help people in isolation,” explained Michael, who is passionate about the British Civil War.

“The aim is to bring new and interesting aspects of history to the wider public. Lockdown has not been particularly intellectually stimulating, so we wanted to give people some brain food to enjoy.”

Supported by the Department of History, and made possible by the University’s rapid rollout of Zoom technology, the 20-minute online talks will each be followed by a Q&A. They are designed so that everyone, of all ages or education levels, will be able to learn something new.

The first talk, delivered by Michael on 29 April, will give a brief history of the British Civil War, in which around 11% of the population died. Showing how it shaped British politics and religion for centuries after, Michael will discuss its origins, the combatants, key individuals, the decisive battles, the controversial outcome, and why it still rules our lives today.

Further talks scheduled will explore smuggling, raiding and dubious labour practices on the thin strip of land on Central America’s eastern coast known as the Mosquito Coast in the 1700s (6 May) and the history of Zimbabwe from its colonisation in 1890 by Cecil Rhodes to the bloody civil war which swept Robert Mugabe to power in 1980 (13 May).

There will also be articles for people to read on the History Indoors blog as well as roundtable discussions available on the team's YouTube channel

“We hope that people will find it entertaining, but also that they can feel they have a greater understanding about a topic than they had before,” said Michael.

“We also hope it will be a comfort for people, knowing people care and want to engage with them.”

Register to take part and suggest a topic that interests you for a future talk.