We tried something new in connection with a conference called Learning by the Book. The conveners asked participants to submit a blog post to History of Knowledge in lieu of… Read more Blogging before Conferencing →
My initial personal takeaway from tonight’s lecture on digital mapping: It looks useful as an analytical tool, and for presentation, but in the end we still have to write narratives. Historians have to make choices, not present facts that merely speak for themselves. During the question and answer period, the story-telling aspect of such enterprises became clearer. Apparently a kind of directed narrative is the idea. Unfortunately, that got lost in the presentation of tools aimed at the already initiated. An inordinate amount of space was given to talking about… Read more Tonight’s Lecture →
In most of today’s university disciplines, professional training serves to distance an individual from the public, to refine them into an ‘expert’ whose speech and writing are marked by incomprehensible formulae and keywords. But history-telling came out of an age before the era of experts, and its form is inherently democratic.
—Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (2014; Cambridge UP, 2015), 56.
At the end of his English-language review of Anne Sudrow’s long book (in German) about the shoe in National Socialism, Neil Gregor has some choice remarks about German academic publishing, particularly dissertations and the second advanced dissertation (Habilitation) that would-be professors in Germany have to write.1 Of course, he does not mean all or even most scholarly books in Germany, but as an editor and historian, I do have to deal with the tendency he describes rather a lot. I’m sure translators will feel Gregor’s pain too. Inevitably, there are… Read more German Scholarly Monographs →
As I try to write an article about Groener’s understanding of war, which led him to write about Schlieffen’s supposed “recipe for victory,”, I have to keep asking myself, so what? I don’t mean this is in a negative way. I haven’t tired of this topic. But I’m not always sure why it should matter to other people. If I look at the Schlieffen Plan debate carried out mainly in the pages of War in History, it is clear that Groener’s perspective has something to offer that audience, because the… Read more Who Should Groener’s Schlieffen Plan Matter To? →
Uploading one’s dissertation to the Internet Archive is certainly not for everybody, because publishers will not want to publish something that one can get elsewhere for free. Nonetheless, I took… Read more Dissertation on Internet Archive →
When confronted with history too narrowly conceived or framed, I often think back to one graduate course I took, “Issues in British Literature,” which challenged me on a number of… Read more Learning to Synthesize History →
The British Film Institute has a YouTube channel that offers a lot of historic films. Here is “Santa Claus’ by G. A. Smith in 1898. Apparently the special effects were quite a feat 110 years ago. For something longer and more in tune with this blog’s recurring theme of war and society, see “Christmas Under Fire” (1941), which looks at Britain at war on Christmas Eve. This film from the Ministry of Information has an American narrator for an American audience. It was made before Pearl Harbor, when the American… Read more A Christmas Short Film from 1898 →
Kevin Levin of Civil War Memory has posted good material to his academic blog under the category, myth of black Confederates. Several recent posts include criticism of efforts by modern-day Confederate patriots and would-be historians who want to appropriate Weary Clyburn, a slave, as a defender of Southern liberty. In one he points out that writing good books to debunk myths is all well and good, but on the subject of black Confederates “the real fight must take place on the web.” In the same post he points to an… Read more Blogging and Myth-Busting →
My wife is reading a crime story I got for Christmas and read over the holidays, Christian von Ditfurth, Mann ohne Makel. It’s sleuth, Josef Maria Stachelmann, is a historian… Read more When Google Gets it Wrong →