The Craft of History in the Age of Fake News

Professor Tom Griffiths asks: 'What is the prospect of history in the age of ‘alternative facts’?' and comments: 'The need for history – for scholarly, balanced, self-critical history – has never been greater.'

This lecture is both the HCV's Annual Lecture and The University of Melbourne's Ernest Scott Prize lecture. (Read more HERE.) Beginning with light refreshments from 6.30 pm, the lecture will be delivered from 7.00 to 8.00 pm.

Thanks to generous support from the University of Melbourne, this event is free of charge. It is essential, however, to book in advance. Please click HERE to register via the University of Melbourne website.


What is the prospect of history in the age of ‘alternative facts’? Historians have always been important in civil society – we are the great storytellers! But we are also the storytellers who, when the chips are down, are prepared to do the hard work to try to distinguish between truth and lies, between good history and fake news, between facts and their alternatives. We seem to be entering a time when a substantial proportion of people have lost faith in our ability to discern and agree upon a past reality, who don’t even know how one might go about such a task, who don’t understand what might constitute ‘evidence’ or what ‘context’ means. We seem to have lost faith in expertise and even any sense of what it might be based upon. The digital age has levelled and equalised sources and the internet has become a mire of undifferentiated information and opinion. This is a time when anything goes, and when the noisiest prevail. The need for history – for scholarly, balanced, self-critical history – has never been greater.


Tom Griffiths AO FAHA is an historian whose books and essays have won prizes in history, science, literature, politics and journalism including the Douglas Stewart Prize, the Eureka Science Book Prize, the Ernest Scott Prize and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History. He is the author of Hunters and Collectors (1996), Forests of Ash: An Environmental History (2001), Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica (2007) and The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft (2016). He is the W K Hancock Professor of History and Director of the Centre for Environmental History at the Australian National University.

September 05, 2017 at 6:30pm - 8pm
Melbourne School of Design
Masson Road
The University of Melbourne, Vic 3010
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Margaret Birtley · · 0418 814 957

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