Variations on the repeating-history theme appear alongside debates about attribution. Irish statesman Edmund Burke is often misquoted as having said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Spanish philosopher George Santayana is credited with the aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” while British statesman Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Lessons from the past may not always ward off doom, but they can provide insights into the present and even the future.
Faculty and students in the Virginia Tech Department of History are always drawing wisdom from the past and helping to illuminate the present. Marian Mollin’s research into the protest movements of the 1960s, for example, has promoted understanding of a number of recent protest movements. Peter Wallenstein’s research into the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia has brought more than background on the movie Loving; it has also lent perspective on more recent debates on marriage rights.
“History Repeating” offers a range of projects that help demonstrate the value both of learning history and of continuing to uncover and analyze clues from the past.