Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Writing History

This is is just a quick post before I get on with what I must. Song time ago, I was in a meeting with a university Dean. The Dean happened to be a professor in the English Department. Somehow the issue of footnotes came up in a passing reference. I don't recall her actual words, but I do remember vividly her snort of contempt for old-fashioned footnotes when modern in-text citations were used by all scholars except historians.  This bubbled around in me for some time. To me, in-text citations are like speed bumps in reading. History in its essential and I would say, proper form, is a story, seething to be read as literature.  Oh, I know, social science with its pseudo and crypto English has infected the published work of historians but this pretence at science does not alter the underlying reality.  Historians always work with incomplete evidence and must fill the gaps with imagination. I admit this is carefully corralled imagination; one must not allow the horses to bolt, but imagination all the same. I hope therefore, that we historians never succumb to this wrong-headed fad in theHumanities  to pretend we are scientists.  Long live the story!

No comments:

Post a Comment