“Rather than trying to understand the past on its own terms, these historians want the past to be immediately relevant and useful; they want to use history to empower people in the present, to help them develop self-identity, or to enable them to break free of that past.”
“In their well-intentioned but often crude efforts to make the past immediately usable, these scholars undermine the integrity and the pastness of the past.”
Gordon S. Wood on many cultural historians from:
Wood, Gordon S. The Purpose of The Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).p8
John H Arnold, History: A Very Short Introduction. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000).
As one of the “A Very Short Introduction” series of books, John H Arnold’s installment on History is very short indeed, just 123 pages. It is also, very informative. History does more than define history as those things belonging to the past. It describes the act of creating history, a work of history. Much attention is given to the importance of research. Searching for, collecting, and organizing small bits of evidence. Allowing the evidence to prove both insights to, and questions about, a given topic. History also discusses sources, primary and secondary. Most of all, History explores historiography, the way in which each of us view history.
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This post serves as an introduction to a new project. Importantly, the blog title “History Present” and the address (historypresent.com) will remain. This project fits squarely with the ideas that led me to start the blog. So…
What is it about? See the title. Who am I? A good place to start answering that question is found at this bog’s “About” page. When, exactly, are my times? From when I was born until now. More to follow.
How will it look? After collecting my scattered thoughts, and with a few minutes consideration, I settled on the following format. “Settled on” is to decisive a phrase. “Going with for now” is more accurate. Posts associated with this project will carry the title The History of My Times: According to Me. My thought is to create both a The History of My Times page (not sure) and category (certain). Each entry in the series will carry a subtitle reflecting that post’s subject matter. Example subject matters may feature the following subtitles: “The Cold War” or, “Cold Cuts.” To make searching easier, the post subtitle will appear above project title. While some subtitles may play at their given subject matters, I promise they will pertain to the subject matter. My intention is to deliver a serious history, mostly. Why deliver a serious history? Because I am not very funny.
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