Introduction: Having always been fascinated by History over the long term, Penelope J. Corfield was disappointed at the paucity of books on the theme, so decided to write one herself. Entitled Time and the Shape of History, it was published in 2007 by Yale University Press. Lots of friends read it and remarked on its scope. Many appreciated the 29 specially chosen illustrations too. But reviews were slow to follow, the best coming from fellow-historian Bill Speck who commented that ‘anyone interested in history will find it a riveting read’ (History, 2009). Other commentators, however, have found the book to be strange and ‘wacky’. PJC is slightly taken aback by that comment. She is proud to have written something unusual but doesn’t actually consider the text to be difficult. It is true that the text is packed with information and examples, which means that it takes quite a bit of digesting. On the other hand, it is not written obscurely. Moreover, to aid access, there are eight Chapterlinks (short sections between the main chapters). These offer possible starting points, so that the book can be read in any sequence. Try them and see! Click here to purchase a copy on Amazon.
5.1.1 PJC Book Overview (2020) – Time and the Shape of History (2007) Pdf.57
Contains list of chapter headings and chapterlinks; plus a survey of reviews; and a short note on PJC’s future writing plans.
5.1.2 Writing into Silence about Time (BLOG/ 73, Jan. 2017)
PJC considers, ten years after its first publication in 2007, why her study of Time & the Shape of History has been greeted with critical silence.
5.1.3 Why Can’t We Think about Space without Time? (BLOG/ 74, Feb. 2017)
This short essay criticises theories that reject the concept of Time in favour of an omni-present Space. Instead, the answer has to be an integrated Space-Time or, as a minority of analysts (including PJC) prefer, an integrated Time-Space.
5.1.4 Humans as Time-Specific Stardust (BLOG/ 75, March 2017)
Humans, made ultimately from stardust, occupy their own individual and unique slices of Time/Space and none other. Travel to other eras is possible only by using brainpower and imagination.
5.1.5 Humans as Collective Time-Travellers (BLOG/ 76, April 2017)
Further develops the points made in BLOG/ 75, showing how humans are meshed into unfolding Time. It is our medium, about which we can think systematically – allowing us both to study the past and (not always accurately) to anticipate the future.
5.1.6 Proposing a School Roots Project for Teenagers (BLOG/122, Feb. 2021)
Penelope Corfield here advocates a School Project, to be undertaken by teenagers aged 15-16, which would entail talking to significant family members or primary carers (in the case of adopted children) about family roots. Such a Project would encourage people to learn more about their own roots in Time – and that understanding is helpful to each individual’s sense of personal identity, self-esteem, and ability to connect with others.
5.1.7 The Peopling of Britain: Proposed Schools Course for Teenagers (BLOG/123, March. 2021)
Penelope Corfield here advocates a Schools course for Teenagers, studying the very long history of migration into Britain, since the first arrival of the Celts and the Basques. All British families appear in the course of this sage, which allows students to consider, in a supportive learning environment, not only the conflicts and tensions produced by migration – but also the positive and dynamic elements, including intermarriage across ethnic, religious, social, and cultural barriers.
Penelope J. Corfield
Penelope J. Corfield is a historian, lecturer and education consultant. She currently serves as the President of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS).
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