University of Leicester eBulletin

Big Questions About Small Places: Uncovering What is Hidden from History

May 2003
No 124

The head of a world-renowned centre for the study of English local history explored the secret lives of our ancestors in a free public lecture at the University of Leicester.

Professor Christopher Dyer, Professor of Regional and Local History at the University, gave his inaugural lecture - Hidden from History: Enquiries into Past Localities - at 5.30pm on Tuesday, May 13 in the Ken Edwards Building.

The lecture brought together themes in local history for which this University is famous throughout the world.

Professor Dyer commented: "Local history is not parochial - local historians of the Leicester School ask big questions about small places. The advantage of studying a village, town or region is that we can see the interaction between economic, social, political and cultural history, and understand change more completely.

"Take for example the origins of modern society in 1200-1600. The momentous changes are hidden from view. The medieval lords seem all powerful, but really the people over whom they ruled- serfs, peasants etc, were quietly taking initiatives and pursuing their own interests. We find that village communities were governing themselves, devising their own ways of making decisions, raising funds, and changing their lives. A particularly significant group were the farmers, who took over the management of large areas of land, but have left little evidence, but we can find out about their secret lives."

Professor Dyer is acclaimed for his research into many aspects of medieval England, including agriculture, rural settlements, towns, commerce, money, material culture and mentality, he has published numerous articles, papers in journals, essays and books.

The Centre for English Local History, part of the Department of Economic and Social History, is famed throughout the historical world. Its first director was the well-known English historian, W G Hoskins.

For more information, contact Professor Dyer on 0116 252 2762.

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