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Pseudo-history, and related issues
#61
Quote:Does part of the problem lie in the fact that regular historians, academicians and the like, care so little to make their histories interesting?
I get the idea that it's the other way round. When they write for a larger audience, many historians have to treat subject outside their specialism, and fall back upon "common knowledge", and usually, people remember what's most spectacular. The professor who is specialised in, say, the Seleucid Empire, can honestly believe that Archimedes built a heat ray. If he wants to tell an interesting story, he will tell that.
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#62
Quote:Possibly. But what's interesting to one is boring to another, and too many (or not enough) facts and footnotes is somewhat of a subjective judgment, too. It can be distracting to have an inch of text, and three inches of footnotes sometimes. Other times, one wonders "where the heck did they come up with that?"
Still, I don't think you'll deny that history, particularly interest and reading of history, is at an abysmal state in the West. I can't help but think that these 'normal' academics are precisely to blame for that. And they also create demand for these various quacks to come in and fulfill that desire for interesting history with their fanciful frauds. I find it hard to believe that if historians still cared to write like Gibbon the quacks wouldn't recede by a large percentage.
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#63
Quote:I find it hard to believe that if historians still cared to write like Gibbon the quacks wouldn't recede by a large percentage.
That is certainly true. Perhaps it is because "telling a story" is considered to be a bit "less" than hard research?
Jona Lendering
Relevance is the enemy of history
My website
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#64
Exactly. That's why people in the larger culture abandoned history completely (and why shouldn't they, when even the people right in the thick of it don't care to make it interesting?), and as a consequence people who do make it interesting feel like they have no need to be very factual, for they have no competition from anyone.

I blame it firmly on people who should know better.

Ever since Ranke historians have said, "I don't care to make it interesting, because I'm above vulgar popularizing." I find Ranke much more culpable than a simpleton like Gavin Menzies.
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#65
Quote:"I don't care to make it interesting, because I'm above vulgar popularizing."
I strive to be a vulgar popularist. :wink:
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#66
Quote:I strive to be a vulgar popularist. :wink:
Smile

I think that in an important and profound way, there is no higher calling.
Multi viri et feminae philosophiam antiquam conservant.

James S.
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#67
Quote:
D B Campbell:1cuq67ex Wrote:I strive to be a vulgar popularist. :wink:
Smile

I think that in an important and profound way, there is no higher calling.


Indeed, is that not the point?

If we can excite our students, be they 3, 30 or 30,000 and impart to them not only the information but a thirst to know more have we not done something worthwhile?

We can not hope to teach our students everything just as out instructors could not impart to us all that we could or should know. However many of us were inspired to know more, and that inspiration has carried us to this point and hopefully will carry us further still.

History should be exciting, and there is no reason it can not be both interesting and accurate. Being both may not be easy, but that is the challenge all teachers accept, or should, in the classroom or the printed page.

Some students you will never reach no matter how much singing and dancing you may do, but for everyone we do inspire with the love of learning, the thirst to know more, then we have succeed even if it is but a small success.

And now I will climb down off the soap box and return to my reading (an anthology of Japanese puppet plays in translation).

:|

Narukami
David Reinke
Burbank CA
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#68
Hear, Hear, David....well said !! Smile D
I heartily agree with those sentiments !
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#69
This is true across the board in academia. I've heard astronomers speak contemptuously of Carl Sagan and evolutionary biologists treat Stephen Jay Gould as a hack. Professional jealousy figures heavily in this. Anyone who writes best-sellers is a figure of contempt for those whose writings never reach a wide audience. They don't sass Stephen Jay Hawking, though, despite the popularity of his writing. He's a guy who bites back and they don't want to endure his withering scorn. There are hundreds of scientists today who chose science as their profession because they read Sagan or Gould as youngsters. Incidentally, Sagan himself said he got into planetary science because he was intrigued as a boy by the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Imagine some stuffy academician making such an admission now.
Pecunia non olet
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#70
Quote:
SigniferOne:3njre4pb Wrote:I find it hard to believe that if historians still cared to write like Gibbon the quacks wouldn't recede by a large percentage.
That is certainly true. Perhaps it is because "telling a story" is considered to be a bit "less" than hard research?
That's only true if you are talking about the publication. If I have one that's the result of hard research and another that's a nice narrative, but without much delving into the sources, then I would consider the narrative to be 'less', indeed. There's nothing wrong with a well-researched book with a good narrative style. But some publishers seem to press their authors to do away with notes and even the index, which of course enables authors to write books like 'Cartimandua, warrior queen of the Britons'. :evil:
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#71
Ave Fratres,

Since we are sort of talking about Academics, I thought I could share a story from my student days at the University of Vienna. I was enrolled in a History class, with a title something like " Die Voelkereinwanderung" , It covered the fall of the empire in the west through to right before the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire. Since this was Vienna , most emphasis was on events in the West. The course was taught by an older professor ,who had issues. He had to be addressed using all of his titles in a formulaic way, otherwise he would not acknowledge you. His manner of teaching was to start with one blackboard (yes it was that long ago) and provide Date, Name and Incident. We were supposed to copy and memorize all that was written , and to be able to repeat it, on demand. All of this was extremely dry, and mind numbing. However, if you could get your question recognized, the Herr Direktor Professor Doktor etc. was a different person. He would describe an event in minute detail, discuss motives, outcomes, the weather that day, what document was signed, where that document is today, and even what the individuals were wearing. It was like he was an eye witness to the event. He was animated and compelling. Once he felt he had adequately answered the question, it was back to the blackboard.

I know my old professor never resolved that internal conflict between factual data and student interest and it seems that the conflict still continues.

Just thought to share this,...... Regards from a sunny but cool Balkans, Arminius Primus aka Al
ARMINIVS PRIMVS

MACEDONICA PRIMA

aka ( Al Fuerst)




FESTINA LENTE
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#72
Quote: and even what the individuals were wearing.
:lol: :lol:
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
[Image: artgroepbutton.jpg]
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