Category Archives: History 297 Blog

Joan Scott, Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis

Scott asserts that in order to a full comprehensive view of the history of gender, gender must be examined from all sides. Different gender concepts within different levels of class must be taken into account. Class has more clarity than gender or race. It has clearer rule, boundaries, and components; and with these more easily defined elements, race and gender can better be understood, as long as class is accounted for and examined clearly. Scott also states that one problem most theorist, scholars, historian, etc. have when they discuss theory, is that there is no “unifying theory” . Mostly there is just discussion; no argument. And with the discussion of gender there area couple of classic view points that are always used when discussing gender. Usually the stance is either the Marxist view point or the social one, according to Scott. She feels that the problem with the Marxist view is that it’s a too material way of looking at gender; and the problem with the social view is that those who study gender in a social construct, usually only focus on one gender  (usually women) separate from the other. This problem shows the tendency of gender studies to be women studies. Even though realistically, gender studies should not be a pseudonym for female studies, and for a fully encompassing understanding of gender history, all aspects of gender needs to be discussed and incorporated into all fields of history.

Davis vs Finlay on Guerre

Robert Finlay writes his article as a review of Natalie Davis’s book, The Return of Martin Guerre. Finlay likes Davis’s writing, but has a few problems with it. His main problem is that he disagrees with the fact that Davis fills in a lot of the story with her own opinions and interpretations because of lack of evidence. Finlay feels that Davis just assumes the point of the wife, that she was in on the her husband’s identity theft, but that Davis has no way to prove that this was the case and that this is quite assumption to make with no basis. He feels this is wrong to do as a historian, and that this makes the credibility of the entire book falls apart. He finds the book inventive, imaginative, beautifully argued, and unique in how different it is from other works on Guerre. Despite this praise, he still feels that this inventiveness is a problem for a work of nonfiction.

Davis responds in an article to Finlay’s article. Her defense against Finlay’s criticisms is that she informs the reader in the beginning of the book, as well as any time within the book that she is forced to assume certain points due to lack of sources. She also states that her assumptions are educational guesses; ones that she feels were probably the most likely cases. Davis has a point when she says this. Its hard to critique a book for doing the very thing that the author warns you is going to be done. When the author warns the reader before the book even starts that there are some elements to the story that are not based on actual evidence, as there are missing records. To take that warning and then still complain about it is unwarranted and a bit unnecessary.

Graften: Proof and Persuasion in History

Graften’s Proof and Persuasion in History is an intellectual history work. In it Graften discusses the history and phenomenon of footnotes. He mentions that footnotes at first were used by the elite, as it became a fashionable practice among them. It wasn’t until Gibbon and de Thou’s use of footnotes that they really became popular among all types of people. Graften also discusses the different ways footnotes are used, including but not limited to; contributing to the narrative, contradicting or making counter points for an argument, and sourcing the information stated above. They are also often used to just attract attention. The Italians even used them to have hidden political meaning by including sources written by political allies, and excluding sources written by enemies. By showing these different examples of uses, Graften helps illustrate the fluidity of footnotes and their uses and the complexity that they can have. Also by doing this and discussing their history and evolution, Graften helps teach readers how footnotes can be used and applied in their own work and analysis.


Hobsbawm is a British Marxist historian who hated politicians. His work, History from Below, is a result of this dislike of history based around politicians or other well known figures. Hobsbawm main point is that historic literature and how history is studied needs to be about everyday people and their culture and society as a whole. He terms this “grass roots history”. This concept is the reason that Hobsbawm believes biographies are a poor method of telling history. They focus too much on one person, and that person is usually not an average mundane person, but someone of stature or status. It’s these regular people that make the context of an event significant, and unfortunately, according to Hobsbawn, we are not telling their stories, or narrating from the “grass roots” method at all. History from Below is a term for this “grass roots” method of history. My looking at things from the perception of the lower class, we can gain a better and more clear picture of history.

A downside to Hobsbawn’s looking at a larger group method, would be the danger of stereotyping and over generalizing said group. Where as the reality is that every person is individually different and that there may be many sub division’s within a large group, looking at a group of people for context may throw off the accuracy of what one is asserting, especially the larger the group is. Despite this Hobsbawn remains steadfast in his assertion that his proposed method of investigating and narrating history is the best option, and best way to fully understand the history of the subject as a whole.

Published and Online Sources- Bibliography


Published sources

Cook, Andrew. Prince Eddy: The King Britain Never Had. History Press, 2009.

Cornwell, Patricia Daniels. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper–case Closed. New York: Putnam’s, 2002.

Hindmarch‐Watson, Katie. “Sex, Services, and Surveillance: The Cleveland Street Scandal Revisited.” History Compass 14, no. 6 (2016): 283-91.

Meikle, Dennis. Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Reynolds and Hearn, 2002.

Pope-Hennessy, James. “1867-1953.” In Queen Mary. Phoenix Press, 1959.

Online Sources

Alleyne, Richard. “History of Royal Scandals.” The Telegraph. October 28, 2007. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Kaplan, Morris B. “Did “My Lord Gomorrah” Smile?: Homosexuality, Class, and Prostitution in the Cleveland Street Affair.” In Disorder in the Court: Trials and Sexual Conflict at the Turn of the Century, edited by George Robb and Nancy Erber, 78-99. New York: New York University Press, 1999. Accessed October 4, 2016.

McDonald, Deborah. The Prince, His Tutor and the Ripper. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, 2007. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Panton, Kenneth J. “Albert Victor, Prince, Duke of Clarence and Avondale.” In Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy, 31-33. Lanham: Scarecross Press, 2011. Accessed October 4, 2016.

“THE PRINCE AND THE CHORUS GIRL.” New Zealand Herald, November 1891, 28th ed., sec. 8724. Accessed October 4, 2016.


Soboul’s “The French Revolution in the History of the Contemporary World” and Furet’s “The French Revolution Revisited”

Soboul’s main point in his article was that the most impactful result of the French Revolution was the transferring of power from the aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, not the establishment of equality like many intended it to be; and that this transfer was a turning point in European history, with global implications. He asserts that any “democracy” that resulted wasn’t actually democracy at all, but merely a façade. Soboul’s analysis is very Marxist in style, and he states that the war wasn’t all democracy and politics, but had social and economic implications and results. He also states that the Revolution marked the change of feudalism into capitalism in France.

Furet’s conclusions about the revolution completely contradict Soboul’s. Furet believed that it was the first true example of democracy; and unlike Soboul, that the revolution didn’t act as a turning point for France, but rather a singular event that had no real impactful change. To Furet, the same sequence of events repeated themselves in France again and again with little difference. He dubbed it the “indefinitely prolonged French Revolution.” This view shows him to regard history as non-progressive, the direct opposite of Soboul.  Throughout the article, Furet critiques Soboul’s point of view, mostly without ever naming him. He insinuates that Soboul imposes his opinion on the subject, a view that is the societal result of his time period.

Both of these articles show two very opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to the study of history. It is hard to claim that one is more correct over the other when in reality, history and its changes and events, are much more complex and intricate than can be illustrated by either one of these views. Reality is much more grey than these two black and white views can fully encompass.

Two Types of History Books–Reviews

This review is of a chronicle history book; specifically the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, reviewed by Renee Trilling.

This second review is a review of an encyclopedia book. The World History Encyclopedia is reviewed by D.A Lincove.|A266345232&v=2.1&u=viva_mwc&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w

Cohen–Homosexuality in Ancient Athens

Cohen’s purpose in this article is to convince the reader that the norms and concepts of homosexuality back in ancient Athens cannot be compared with the concepts and norms of homosexuality in todays society. By studying the laws and literature of this past world, we can view the complexity of sexuality and life during this time, and understand that todays images and standards do not correlate. Cohen’s research discovered that what the laws declared and what literature had recorded actually happening were very different. This discovery is what allows the reader to understand the complexity of the time, and how not everything was as it might have seemed. He strives to protect against the notion of false history and ill-placed assumptions. Assumptions comprised of over compassing statements and leading to deviation from the truth. He concludes that a culture is not analogous, and that one idea or opinion is not held by all people due to its own complexity.

Book Review and Review Article|A325892509&v=2.1&u=viva_mwc&it=r&p=LitRC&sw=w&authCount=1

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.