First French Master in Public History-Histoire Publique (Université de Paris Est, Créteil – 2015-2016)

Master 2 - Public History - UPEC

Promoted by Catherine Brice, contemporary history professor  interested in cultural studies and material culture -Brice is well known for her work on 19th century Italy-, a first French Master in Public history will be launched for the academic year 2015-2016 at the Université de Paris Est, Créteil -Val de Marne (UPEC – University of Paris East, Créteil). Why introducing in France “a discipline without the name” until nowadays, “l’histoire publique”, translated from the English expression “public history”?


Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on “Teaching Public History” coordinated by Thomas Cauvin

Maybe Catherine’s participation in the IFPH Working Group on “Teaching Public History,” during the 2013 annual meeting of the National Council for Public History (Ottawa, Canada) is one of the reasons for this choice? Thomas Cauvin, now professor of Public History at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, coordinated the Ottawa NCPH-IFPH roundtable. Many participants from all continents shared idea’s, experiences, reflections on how best creating programs of public history worldwide around common concepts and teaching activities. The round-table looked at  some specific needs for international public history teaching programs.

Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on "Teaching Public History" coordinated by Thomas Cauvin

Catherine Brice during the April 2013 NCPH Ottawa Conference, working group on “Teaching Public History” coordinated by Thomas Cauvin

Two years after the workshop, Prof. Brice is offering a rich, multifaceted, master who should promote the field in France focusing especially on history communication processes and the media used to transmit new forms of narratives and storytelling. Alternative forms of narrative may be developed being aware of how best using new technologies and the media within a web 2.0 environment. Working with different media and the public, requests new applied professional training that aren’t thought in traditional academic history programs. At Paris Est-Créteil, the master would like to teach these new professional skills to people interested in knowing better about alternative careers with the past and the media, new communication processes and technologies needed to work with and for the public sharing historical narratives.

We have asked Prof.Brice why such a master (and why now?) so to understand better the reasons behind the creation of a challenging public history program within French universities. Here is what she told us first in French (see original below) and then in English.

Prof. Catherine Brice

Prof. Catherine Brice

The Paris-Est Créteil History Department will start in September 2015, a 2nd level Master in Public History. This will be the first Master of this kind  in France. Two observations fostered such an innovative decision. First of all, there’s a social demand for history that continues to grow; this is a demand for popular history through new forms of publications, radio, television, the web ….  This request is coming from the general public. But at the same time, we realized that increasingly different actors are looking for history narratives: private companies, local authorities, cultural institutions, etc.. The presence of Memory at national level, but also the growing interest by commercial firms to communicate a narrative also about the history of their products, their brands, their expertise, testifies about a global public need for history. However, it is rare that historians are solicited as experts of the past if not at the very end of the process and sometimes only to document the past. A second observation is that history is a wonderful discipline to teach critical thinking, the capacity to dominate primary sources and to make them speak about the past. Today, history students in France do not always want to become teachers. At the crossroads of these two main considerations, it seemed that, trying the adventure of public history based on the experience of what exists in other countries, answers both the social demand and  students’ aspirations for their future in the job market. By offering a curriculum that combines theoretical issues dealing with memory, history and the public, offering seminars made by professional  for teaching master students how to handle historical discourses, promoting professional internships that will immerse them in the job market, we hope to offer to young historians, the instruments and the practices needed to making history through other channels” (See in French original answer)

The leaflet of the course is bilingual, we reproduce here the English version. We hope, as IFPH-FIHP, these new teaching programs in public history and the communication of history will extend themselves widely in other continental European countries: similar masters programs are a good way to open continental European universities to the field and its practices.

Serge Noiret




Desire for History, Desire for stories

Public History is the history produced for the wide audience. It is the history that we see represented in films, documentaries, websites, historical novels, magazines and museums. It is the history put in the  service of the political memory of the city, of public institutions, or of specific social groups and  enterprises. It is the history which is seen, listened, read and appreciated by millions of people in the  cinemas, on the TV, in books and in visits.

  • Public history is a recognized discipline, which is taught all around the world, from the United States, Canada, and the UK, to Germany, Latin America and China.
  • The Master in Public History addresses to students who have already been trained as historians and who would like to learn how to adapt their work to the new reality and new means of doing history. The specialists in Public History will learn how to combine academic historical skills with different techniques of communication (magazines, radio, TV, web, corporate communications etc.).
  • This Master will enable students to apply for jobs offered by various institutions which seek, in one way or another, to make history public (companies, local communities, museums, radio and TV production companies, publishing houses etc.). Jobs could include web editor, editorial assistant, writer (historical cartoons, documentaries), etc.

The first Master of Public History in France

The Master 2 in Public History will open at UPEC in September 2015. This will be the first Master of this sort in France, which is designed to give young historians the necessary academic and technical skills to meet the growing demands of society and of their profession. It is aimed at students with a Master 1 in History.

The Master 2 in Public History has an international dimension brought by an agreement with the University of Trieste.


First semester: Courses will be taught by professors and researchers of the UPEC and by other professionals. They will include theory (“History, Memory, publics”) and practice (“Writing public history”, “History and web”, “History, TV and radio,” etc.), as well as international training in English and training in historical research.

A tutored project will allow students to work in a professional environment.

A trip to Trieste (Italy) will strengthen the international dimension of the Master 2 in Public History. An Erasmus agreement is already in place with the University of Trieste.

Second semester: Students will conduct an internship of 4 to 6 months (in a company, a museum, a publishing house, radio, TV etc.). At the end of their internship they will have to present a report. They will be followed by a tutor from the UPEC, who will work in collaboration with the host institution of the trainees.

The knowledge of English is required for this course.

How to apply?

Send your application, including an analytical CV and a letter of motivation, by ordinary mail and by email, within July 1, to:

  • Ordinary mail: Marylin DAHERON , UPEC, CRHEC, Secrétariat des masters, 61 avenue du Général de Gaulle, 9400 CRETEIL
  • Email :

An oral interview will be held between 1 and 15 July. Your registration to the Master is subject to obtaining your degree M1 before the start of the courses.

Contacts : Catherine Brice, Professeur d’histoire contemporaine à l’UPEC,

Jérôme Bazin, Maître de conférence en histoire contemporaine à l’UPEC,

Virginie Mathé, Maîtresse de conférence en histoire ancienne à l’UPEC,


Original in French 

“Le département d’histoire de Paris-Est Créteil lance, en septembre 2015, un master 2 professionnalisant d’Histoire Publique. Ce sera le premier en France. Cette décision part d’un double constat: tout d’abord une demande sociale en histoire qui ne cesse de s’amplifier, se manifestant par des publications de divulgation historique, des émissions de radio, de télévision…Une demande venant du grand public, donc. Mais en même temps on s’aperçoit que répondent à cette demande des acteurs de plus en plus diversifiés : entreprises, collectivités locales, institutions. Les vagues mémorielles, au niveau national, mais aussi l’intérêt toujours croissant des entreprises à communiquer sur l’histoire de leurs produits, de leurs marques, de leurs savoir-faire en témoignent. Pourtant, il est rare que les historiens soient sollicités autrement qu’en bout de chaîne, dans une fonction d’expertise ou de simple documentation. Et, second constat, l’histoire est une formidable discipline de pensée, d’esprit critique, de maîtrise des sources et de leur restitution. Or tous les étudiants qui font de l’histoire en France jusqu’au Master  n’ont pas toujours envie de devenir enseignant. A la croisée de ces deux constats, il nous a semblé que tenter l’aventure de l’histoire publique en s’appuyant sur l’expérience de ce qui existe ailleurs répond à la fois à cette demande sociale et aux aspirations des étudiants. En leur proposant un cursus alliant enseignement théorique sur les enjeux de liens entre mémoire, histoire et publics, des enseignements faits par des professionnels destinées à leur apprendre à manier la divulgation historique, et un stage en entreprise qui les immergera dans le monde du travail, on espère ainsi donner à de jeunes historiens les moyens de continuer à faire de l’histoire, autrement”.

Cite this blog post
Serge Noiret (2015, March 17). First French Master in Public History-Histoire Publique (Université de Paris Est, Créteil – 2015-2016). IFPH-FIHP. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

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