Please ensure you contact the Group Leader as places are limited.
Topics for 2018 - 2019
We will be doing three topics, one per term. Each topic covers the full range of historical periods, from ancient times to the present day.
Topic 1 - The Middle World: “Six visions of perfection” (Autumn term)
The “Middle World” is the name historian Tamin Ansary gives to the big region which lies roughly between Europe, India and China. linking Europe to Asia to form the wider continent of “Eurasia”. Its history is probably less familiar to us and oddly it has no geographical name. Here, different peoples, cultures and religions have jostled with each other to assert their distinctive visions of how the world should be ordered. In these sessions we will focus on six of these visions:
Persian fire550-330 BC - The Persian empire was greatest of them all, yet what endured was its strong sense of cultural identity. What was its secret? Greek excellence480-323 BC - The Greeks are famed for the excellence of their civilisation. What exactly was their legacy to our own civilisation? Arabic community610-1258 - The prophet Mohammed created an Arabic “community of perfection”. How would it deal with its vast conquests? Mongol terror1205-1368 – Genghis Khan built a huge Mongol empire. But were their conquests due to terror, or to calculation and compromise? Ottoman clockwork1299-1922 - The Ottoman empire ran like clockwork and challenged the rise of the west. What made it tick, and why did it fail? European orientalism1918 - the present – Are the west’s modern failures in the Middle East due to “Orientialism”? Does the west misunderstand the east?
Topic 2 – History of Philosophy: A beginner’s guide (Spring term) or “Nothing Nietzsche couldn’t teach ya” (Monty Python)
Is it possible for people who enjoy history to gain a meaningful appreciation and understanding of the history of philosophy without lengthy specialised study? There’s only one way to find out! Our six sessions will begin by defining what philosophy is and discussing its possible relevance. We will then undertake an “exploration for beginners” of its history by discussing individuals and themes from ancient Greek times, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, and the modern era of existentialism and postmodernism. In history it is often possible to perceive progress; does this apply to the history of philosophy?
Topic 3 - Patriarchy - Reflecting on gender in history (Summer term)
Male dominance - “patriarchy” - has a long, persistent and often shocking history. Historians trace its origins back to the dawn of history and the emergence of hierarchy in human societies. During these sessions we will discuss aspects of history’s gender dimension. Why did patriarchy take root and become so widespread across the world? How was it defended and attacked? When and why did it begin to change? How should the gender dimension form part of the practice and enjoyment of history?
Complete summary notes of previous topics can be found here:
I joined Verwood U3A when I moved here in 2009 as a way of meeting people and keeping my brain active. I have been a member of various U3A Groups, including Family History, Current Affairs and the Reading Group and was a Committee member for a time. I used to be a history teacher and I volunteered to re-start the History Group in 2010. The enthusiasm here for history is tremendous. We enjoy learning together and I have can safely say that I have never enjoyed history more.
The History Group is a friendly group of enthusiasts from all backgrounds. No previous knowledge is required or assumed and we agree different topics each year. We strongly believe that history should be fun. We enjoy discussion and debate, sometimes in small groups, and look at a lot of historical documents to help us get into each topic. All my notes and handouts are posted on the website after each session by our webmaster Tony Bird (also a History Group member). If you like history, or would like to try it as a new interest, we will give you a warm welcome. No previous knowledge is assumed or needed, just your interest and enthusiasm and a wish to learn.