Earlier this year, the University of Sussex announced sweeping plans for teaching and research in history. It would withdraw from research and research-led teaching in English social history pre-1700, in the economic and political history of continental Europe before 1900, and in social and political theory (though not Early Modern intellectual history). It would integrate history and the American history component of American studies to create what it claimed would be a vibrant new research and research-led teaching capability in American and British Atlantic history.
These proposals were not designed solely to save money. On the contrary, they aimed to cut back on history so as to free up resources to create a chair in digital humanities and courses in heritage management. The university did not do anything to back up its implicit belief that establishing these new areas would have students flocking to the university in unprecedented numbers. The idea of moving into digital humanities seemed to be a snap response to the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s designation of this area as a focus for large-scale research grants; but research grants do not make a department.
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