Book Review and Review Article

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This review is by Kathleen McCallister, professor at the University of South Carolina and was published in “The Library Journal“. It is a review on the book The Children of Henry VIII by John Guy, published in 2013. She says that Guy’s research is good and is presented in a clear and entertaining way that is good for students and people starting off learning about the Tudor children, but lacks new information and analysis, making those who already have general knowledge about the Tudors bored and unlikely to learn something new.

Braudel — History & Social Sciences; The Longue Duree

Braudel makes the argument that history, along with all the other social sciences, have become very separate from each other. They attack and compete with each other instead of combining together to work more efficiently. He says that history has become too independent, and this independence is thusly undermining history as a science and as a established branch of education.

Braudel also asserts that history will be most effective when it has not only stopped fighting with the other humanities and social sciences, but by employing the method of “longue duree”. This method would be to trace history along changes and impacts over an extended period of time, rather than just studying single events. This is more along the lines of civilizations and ages and social and cultural changes, rather than single battles or people. He believes that a single event is just something that happens, and has no meaning without context; but with the accumulation of events and their outcomes and impacts, history can better be discovered in a method of change and evolution.

Good vs. Bad Historical Websites

Good Website

http://pase.ac.uk/index.html

Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England (PASE) is a database that has acquired and structured information on every recorded person inhabiting England from the late sixth to the late eleventh century. This information is taken from a variety of primary sources, including but not limited to chronicles, saints’ Lives, charters, libri vitae, inscriptions, Domesday Book and coins; as well as contains information about the primary sources themselves, sometimes where they can be found, and their creators. It is a site that works through a variety of facilities, to work to present the most accurate information possible. The website sites it own history and purpose to help the reader understand the benefits and how to navigate the site. It states that it works through the Department of History and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, at King’s College, London, and in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, at the University of Cambridge. The project was funded from 2000 to 2004 by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and from 2005 to 2008 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This gives the site a good feeling of legitimacy and accuracy. It is an excellent example of a good and useful historical website.

Bad Website

http://www.creationism.org/

This website is a bit of a mess, it’s very hard to navigate and find information. It also has a lot of inaccuracies and lack of information on creationism topics. If one was looking to research creationism or religious history, this would not be helpful at all. It also asserts facts that are not supported or sourced, giving the impression that the “facts” are actually just opinions that the author is stating to push their own beliefs. The design aspect is just an eye sore with a lot of links that lead to pointless pages. It is a good example of a bad website.

Edmund S. Morgan: The Puritan Ethic and the American Revolution

Morgan’s thesis can be identified to one sentence in the beginning of his paper.

“I should like to suggest that the movement in all its phases, from the resistance against Parliamentary taxation in the 1760s to the establishment of a national government and national policies in the 1790s was affected, not to say guided, by a set of values inherited from the age of Puritanism ”

Morgan asserts that during all of the American Revolution, as well as its development and its results, and perhaps continuing until today’s time, was driven by a set of ideas and attributes that were adopted by the wealthy and renowned men of the time and applied to the manner of conduction, management, and navigation in regards to policy making and governmental development. That these men adapted traditional ideals of Puritans of this time and used them for their own goals and interests. He pens this term “Puritan Ethic”, giving an identity to these ideals that were used by non Puritans in a non religious manner during a large point in history. He then uses the rest of the article to demonstrate the manner in which this transpired and to answer this question of “How did we come to have a puritan ethic?”, concluding that it may still be around us today, shaping our lives.

Scholarly Monograph: Henry VIII and his Queens

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The book I choose to present as a scholarly monograph was Henry VIII and his Queens by David Loades. Demonstrating that this work is of scholarly quality is its bibliography, footnotes, and attention to detail. However, this book is relatively short and though it contains good details about Henry’s six wives, it does cover a forty year period. Meaning that it would be impossible to go into great detail about such a complex and long time period. This book is good for beginners who are just starting out and trying to get some info about Henry’s wives or for those who just want the basics. However, if someone wants a more complete history of Henry and his wives and the time of their reigns, they would best be served by finding a lengthier book. Good details about the wives individually, not so great detail about the time period or their reigns.

Alan Sokal: Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity

Alan Sokal’s Transgressing the Boundaries is a very sesquipedal work. Sokal uses a lot of superfluous wording to confuse the reader into accepting his work as a reliable authority; when in fact the article is a hoax designed to test whether a well established and prestigious academic journal would publish an article that was completely nonsense as long as it sounded good, and appealed to the editors’ presuppositions. This openly crticized the practice of humanistic writing about the physical sciences and the act of publishing without peer review; and called into question the academic journal’s intellectual integrity.

The article itself is extremely difficult to read, and one may find it nearly impossible to get through one page before tossing it aside; let alone the entire article. Because of its difficulty to ascertain, it is understandable that one would dismiss it as a complicated piece of writing that is just too abstract and complex for one to comprehend. Making it slightly understandable, if no less awkward, for the reader to instinctively accept the word of a renown physic’s professor and his seemingly brilliant piece of work, as an acceptable authority on the topic. That being said, the footnotes within the article are very entertaining, though  it is difficult to correlate the context of the footnotes to the article, due to the article’s incomprehensible nature. Overall the work lacks any purpose or benefit other than to prove a point; one that was conducted in a reasonably underhanded manner. 

Historical Consciousness in the Modern Age

In the 3rd chapter of Mark Gilderhus’s work, History and Historians, he explains that between the fourteenth and nineteenth centuries the approach and method of studying the past evolved from a superstitious and religious practice to a more secular and scientific one. This is essentially his main idea. He asserts that as society changed through the times and technological and conceptual knowledge advanced, history as a discipline became “more scientific in methods of research, criticism, and analysis”. He also states that many different scholars through this time are what drove these changes by changing the practice of history into a profession, thus laying the foundation of development to the present day. Gilderhus spends the rest of the chapter using examples of different scholars, their works, and their impact to prove this assertion. He concludes that while many of these scholars paved the way for this change,”it was the Marxist injunction created immense divisions in the modern world over the proper understanding of politics, economics, and the role of history”. With the appearance of Marx and his followers, a fraction was created within the historic community. Where there was the aim to continue to evolve and revolutionize the methods of studying the past, there was now those who desired to backslide into more traditional methods; which in their minds they felt would prevent justifying a particular view of history through the distorted vision of the present ideals.