History? Who likes history here?

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by KateHolzDoKunoichi, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. KateHolzDoKunoichi

    KateHolzDoKunoichi New Member

    Sep 13, 2004
    Los Angeles
    US, World, European or any other type of history. What kind of history do you like?

    My fav. one is European History, its so facinating and at the same time, funny and sad. People back then all they liked to do was fight -_-, eh they still do.
     
  2. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I majored in it, so I clearly like it as you can't make crap for money with a degree in it.
     
  3. Chesco United

    Chesco United Member+

    Jun 24, 2001
    Chester County, PA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
  4. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Don't be so short sighted, gentlemen. I majored in two supposedly useless disciplines. And you know what? The law pays just fine.
     
  5. Danks81

    Danks81 Member

    May 18, 2003
    Philadelphia
    History rules, I'd already have a minor in it if my overpriced school would let me apply AP credits towards it. But the bastards would rather I take more classes.
     
  6. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Ewwwwwwwww. A lawyer?
     
  7. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    I've got a history degree and am doing postgraduate study in the Ancient World. I specialise in percpetions of ancient Greek poleis.
     
  8. Gordon EF

    Gordon EF Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 15, 2004
    Edinburgh
    I'd love to do a course in Scottish History course or a European History course but it's difficult to fit that in witha science degree.
     
  9. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Its OK - the slime washes off just fine.
    If it makes you feel any better, I just spent part of my vacation rereading parts of Gruen's "The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome".
     
  10. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm just kidding really. My dad used to be a lawyer, and one of my best friends is too and I like them both just fine :p
    That does make me feel better. :D
     
  11. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Well, gotta keep up with the field, I suppose. I've been reading on some of the newer scholarship these days, with mixed results. Certain books that I've read keep convincing me that a PhD might have been even easier. Ah well - c'est la vie.
     
  12. CrewDust

    CrewDust Member

    May 6, 1999
    Columbus, Ohio
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I like all of it. I majored in it. You can make money with the degree but you will have to be in an industry that doesn't have anything to do with it, outside a nice interview ice breaker.
     
  13. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    I consider myself an amateur historian. I LOVE history.
     
  14. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I sucked at it in high school and college, mainly because my brain came unequipped with that part where dates are stored. However, I've since found certain histories that I like reading quite a bit. E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class, for instance, and old-school Americans like Walter Prescott Webb and Bernard DeVoto. One of these days I hope to read the classical greek historians, and one of my favorite books is by the Roman "historian" Suetonius, whose Twelve Caesars is must reading whenever one thinks that ones own republic is going down the toilet. We're quite a long way away, I hope, from dissenting senators having their heads cut off and displayed on pikes outside the Capitol Building. I hope. I hope. Anyway, Twelve Caesars is gossipy and gruesome. If it was assigned in high school history classes, the number of college history majors would triple nationwide.
     
  15. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Which Webb? The Great Plains?

    If you like Webb, you should read Don Worster's Rivers of Empire; it has Webb's stress on the limits of regional environment without all the emphasis of Anglo-American racial superiority that infuses Webb's work.
     
  16. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    In general, how do you guys choose what books to read? Once you choose a book, how do you evaluate it as a history? What do you look for to evaluate whether it's good or bad?

    I ask as an academic historian who's interested in how books capture the interest of the wider public (and which subjects especially do that).
     
  17. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    For me, there are a variety of factors. Usually, I pick up histories and historians whose work touches upon other interests of mine. E.P. Thompson I came across in graduate school when I was learning about Cultural Studies. DeVoto and Webb influenced American poets whose work I like, and I think I came across references to Suetonius in essays by Gore Vidal. So choice tends to come down to whether it will deepen my understanding of something I already know, and evaluation comes down to the good old fashion subjective one of "liking" it, bearing in mind that I spent a good number of years in graduate school, so I have some sense of what academic standards are (and Suetonius would be a best seller today, but he'd have a hard time getting refereed journals to publish his work, and tenure would be difficult).

    Does that get at your question?
     
  18. elainemichelle

    elainemichelle New Member

    Jul 20, 2002
    I like history but right now I really really hate Latin American history, probably b/c the class is so hard for me. (The links b/t what happens there and what happens in Europe don't really jump at me yet.) I'm sure I'll end up loving it as soon as I'm out of that class b/c that's what happened with Euro hist. Never really took to American history b/c it didn't get interesting for me until WWI.
     
  19. MikeLastort2

    MikeLastort2 Member

    Mar 28, 2002
    Takoma Park, MD
    I base a lot of what I read on places I travel to. For instance, my wife and I just went to London and France. Prior to leaving, I bought these books:

    [​IMG] - The Amateur Historian's Guide to Medieval and Tudor London

    [​IMG] London: A History

    [​IMG] - London: The Biography

    [​IMG] - Southern France: An Oxford Archaeological Guide

    We took a trip to Florence and Rome one year, and before we left I read a history of the Medici and The Oxford Archaeological Guide to Rome. When we went to Venice, I read John Julius Norwich's "A History Of Venice" before we left.

    I like to have historical context of the things I'm seeing when we go somewhere. Now with the exception of Norwich's book, the books above aren't exactly what I'd consider "hard core" history. But they serve a purpose for me in that they help me learn something new about the world I live in.
     
  20. Smiley321

    Smiley321 Member

    Apr 21, 2002
    Concord, Ca
    I like reading history, mainly of europe and the ancient middle east.

    I also highly recommend studying science, because most of that is really just the history of people figuring things out about how the world works.

    Learning math and physics gives you an appreciation for the resourcefulness of the ancients like the Greeks. We think that we are so sophisticated and scoff at their silly myths, but they were starting from scratch and they did most of our heavy lifting for us.

    Learning even a fraction of the body of scientific knowledge built up by 1800 makes you realize that we are standing on the shoulders of giants and we should be extremely grateful to those people who had to figure things out under more more adversity than we can imagine.

    So go back and learn that algebra and geometry and calculus, and when you're through your ignorance will be comparable to someone in the year 1800.
     
  21. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've been waiting to get to this post all day. Been so busy at work that I couldn't touch it until I got home.

    Besides the super obvious answer of "something I'm interested in," I pick books for various reasons. If it is something I'm really, really interested in, I will undoubtedly read several books on the topic. I try to choose books from across the spectrum on a topic. Obviously, a lot of history is written with modern prejudices in mind. I look at who published the book, what affiliations the author has with various institutions, etc. Try to figure out what, if any bias or agenda the author or institution might have. I like to read both ends and also to read more moderate stuff. I look at the author's source material.

    I like to see if someone turned a microcosmic event into the whole world or if they downplay other things. I'm extremely interested in the process of history and how people read it as well as reading it myself.

    I did some major coursework on controlling historical perception for modern ends. I centered my work around Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father/founder of modern Pakistan. There's obviously many groups out there that either need to beatify or demonize him as much as possible to support their own causes. I did a study of books in English on him and analyzed what the authors had to say about various aspects of his life and why the perception of those particular items were important today.


    Although I'm not a professional historian (though I'd love to be someday), I don't know if I qualify as "the general public" for your asking purposes. :p
     
  22. Bluto11

    Bluto11 The sky is falling!

    May 16, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    i just got a BA in history. My interests right now are in Irish history. I've just read a lot of books on Michael Collins, The IRA, Irish Nationalism, and Bloody Sunday
     
  23. pmannion

    pmannion Member
    Staff Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Newfoundland
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic

    Have you ever read anything by Peter Hart?
     
  24. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    I asked the question above because I walked through Borders the other day looking for a book that I recently dropped in the mud. The book, Tom Sugrue's The Origins of the Urban Crisis, would probably be considered one of the most important books written in the past 10 years of American historical scholarship. It's spawned a lot of new studies, caused people to rethink the history of white flight and suburbanization, and is really insightful about the connections between the production of urban space and historical subjects' ideas about race. Long story short, I couldn't find it, so I decided to look for about 10 books that off the top of my head, written in the last 10 years, that would be considered "core texts" among American historians. (And what I chose to look for is obviously shaped by my interest as a 20th century, western, environmental historian of urban expansion). The books I chose included histories of segregation and desegregation, the civil rights movement, westward expansion, urban development, immigration, gay society and sexuality, and the New Right.

    Out of those books, I found only one, Lizabeth Cohen's A Consumer's Republic, which recently came out in paperback. What I did find were lots of biographies of presidents, histories of particular battles, especially those in the Civil War and WWII, as well as larger histories of the military conduct of the wars themselves, and books about particular elements of westward expansion (Oregon Trail, Louis and Clarke, etc.).

    Now, "general public" is a misnomer for the people reading this thread, but it's a good way for me to ask people outside the academy this: why do you think these subjects continue to hold fascination for readers of history while academically written history largely does not? Is it that they emphasize the elements of novels (strong plot and character development) more than "scholarly" histories? Are historians in the academy so caught up in debates with each other that their books become uninteresting to those not familiar with them? Are academics just really bad at letting people know what books they think are interesting and important? If they did, would people care?

    Anyway, bit of a ramble, but I'm curious.
     
  25. nicodemus

    nicodemus Member+

    Sep 3, 2001
    Cidade Mágica
    Club:
    PAOK Saloniki
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I find that I get very, very few of my history books from actual bookstores. The selection is usually poor and more often than not contains mainly "pop history," meaning histories written by people with little or no training in the historian's craft. I don't want to say that a journalist can't write good history, but I would say it is a rarity. Much of what I see in bookstores is written by journalists or the "armchair historian" (hobbyists, etc.) Most aren't notated at all and if they are, only sporadically and poorly.

    Unfortunately, the bookstore has largely become like the record store...full of fluff. I realize that statement makes me sound incredibly arrogant, and I don't mean it that way, but the respected work of both musicians and historians is rarely going to be found in a "superstore." I find I order a lot of stuff through Amazon (who can stock these things in a warehouse, but wouldn't have them if they had stores probably) and I also order a lot directly through the various university or scholarly presses.
     

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