What Kind of Historian Are You?


First of all, I apologize for my absence. We currently have no internet at my apartment, and I am awaiting the arrival of such this week. I have about a thousand posts prepped but no way to post! Carry on, you are saying, I know it, so read on::

I tend to contemplate many things, and one of the many things that I’ve recently contemplated is what kind of historian I am. That shouldn’t be that difficult of a question, seeing as there are a million-and-a-half different historical lenses. In my workshop for historians class I took my freshman year of college, we learned about gender theory, economic theory, paradigms, the “imagined communities” theory, etc. And since then, I tried to fit myself into a category.

The question I asked myself was, “What kind of historian am I?”

I wrestled with this question for the last couple of years. I enjoy certain periods of history, especially late medieval and early modern British history (if my observant readers haven’t noticed :)). But I’ve realized I don’t subscribe to any particular “theory” of history as my specialty. I’m not specifically a military historian or a gender historian or an economic historian. I would like to describe myself as a “multi-thematic historian”. I like to incorporate different lenses in interpreting history. I enjoy meshing these different lenses together to explain or expound upon facts I’ve come across. A prime example of this was my senior thesis.

The title perhaps explains it the best. I entitled my capstone project “Of Lady Argonauts and Gold Fever: Women’s Economic Experiences in the California and Yukon Gold Rushes”. Immediately two lenses become apparent. I incorporate both gender and economic histories in explaining the phenomenon of women in gold mining camps. Now, I won’t bore you with an in-depth explanation of my argument, but suffice to say that it talked a lot about economics and women.

The thing is, this isn’t the first time this “multi-thematic” tendency has happened…

And yes, they looked that fake as well…

For the record, that picture was taken at the Falstaff Experience, a Tudor England museum in Stratford, UK…

In any case, I wrote and presented a paper exploring the socioeconomic impacts of the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East. Again, note the dual exploration of social AND economic lenses. I can name about a couple of other pieces I’ve written implementing different lenses. Now, dear readers, I must ask, what type of historian do you find yourself to be? Is the term “multi-thematic” incorrect? Or, do you find yourself in a very similar position? I’m truly curious and would love to get to know my reader base more (goodness knows I ramble enough!)!

Your thoughts?

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7 thoughts on “What Kind of Historian Are You?”

  1. Hmmmm I am not sure where I fall. I love reading pieces that shake the accepted histories. (You know Columbus “Discovered” America.) Even though I am male I think women have been given the short end of the stick when it comes to History, possibly because the women of my family have been strong intelligent people and I learned much from them. I would like to read your thoughts on Socioeconomic impact of the Black Plague because I have some thoughts on that as well. So now who is rambling.

    1. Pete,

      I think historians like to ramble no matter the topic!

      My discussion on the socioeconomic impacts of the Black Death supports my premise that the disease contributed HUGELY to Western ascendancy and Eastern decline. The research is a little dated since I wrote the paper about two years ago, but I’m undergoing research to not only get better access to primary sources but to see what other people are saying.

      Furthermore, I will be writing a post on the debate surrounding what the plague actually was. Stay tuned!

  2. I’m looking forward to that post too. Even though, yeah, I’m pretty much a military historian. In fact, I didn’t even know there were other kinds of history!

  3. Pete, I can email you the paper such as it is right now if you’d like!
    And the post is the next one I’m working on…I should have it up later tonight if all goes well.

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