HIST 451: Course Introduction

The readings assigned for this block presented some interesting points and concepts.  The Sam Wineburg article, “Thinking Like a Historian”, was great for developing ones approach to studying history. He points out the key elements of research, and how to develop an argument. Those elements were, Sourcing, contextualizing, close reading, background knowledge, reading the silences, and corroborating.  His article in my opinion is a good blueprint for starting research on any topic. The most important part of the research is, questioning. The questions one asks about a subject leads them to find the proper sources to answer those questions. The section on sourcing reminded me of an activity we did in my HIST 490: Historical research and writing class, it was called ,extreme footnotes. In the activity students were given only the sources an author used to write a book, and were required to try to figure out, what the book was about, when and where did the topic of discussion take place, what year the book was written, and even possible titles, all based on the sources only. The section on close reading reminded me of a 300 level poetry class I took. The best approach to me for interpreting poetry that on the surface made no sense at all, was to look up the meaning of each word and keep applying various definitions of each word until the body of work made sense to me. History is not that difficult but the concept still works well. The main thing I took from this article was question everything.

The William Cronon article was quite interesting to me as well. The message I received was, history is in everything, and everything has a history. I took a geology class called, Geology 106: Earth History. The section about journalism was good for me since I wrote my 490 research paper about how journalist shaped the public perception of the Vietnam War. Another point that I took notice of is how history applies to the present and the future. I enjoy tracing anything historical to the present day whenever possible. I also believe in the cliche, “History repeats itself”, this is one of my favorite things about history. An event may not happen the exact same way twice, but I do believe that historical facts and events can be indicators of possibilities for future outcomes. I also liked the part about Doctoral degrees and specialization. I will never get a Doctorate, but my specialization is conflict, and humans killing each other, that’s what led me to be a history major. I also learned that a Professor whose name starts with Dr. Is a high Priest, and gatekeeper for the world of those considered, “educated” an interesting analogy.

Prof. Hacker’s article is very useful. Its straight forward and simple for people like me who never had a web presence, and suddenly find themselves in the digital world.


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