Book being read at the moment: P. Krentz, The Battle of Marathon
Hello again! With my return from a great break comes a new blog! I was speaking to an uncle of mine who asked what it is I am studying to which my answer was historical methodology (as more regular readers will know, specifically the utilisation of neurobiology in historical study). His, rather speedy, response was as follows; “So bulls**t then?”
Methodology gets a hard time because it is considered boring and rather than being about history it is instead about the study of history. But the question that always springs to my mind is, if history has no method with which it can say ‘look, we haven’t made this up’ how can it be elevated beyond any more than story telling? (not that that’s is necessarily a bad thing, it is just that historians claim to be doing more than that)
You find some historians use their own world philosophy rather than a methodology, so everything they research must conform to this view or else be discarded as false information from the sources. This has created some interesting work, no doubt there, but also some very flawed work because it lies on the assumption that their view of the world is correct – which, alas, it cannot be.
This is why I personally enjoy methodology, experimenting with new ones and trying to utilise external knowledge that formulates a universal reality rather than my own personal view; hence I looked to the sciences, hence I found neuroscience which, although very difficult to wade through, is very fulfilling within this criteria. Though, others may disagree because no methodology can be perfect . . . which is why it needs constant work . . . which is why I think it should be studied more.
So, the next history book you pick up, skim through the introduction and preface to see if there is any indication of methodology. If not, I would personally ask what makes this writer any more able than anyone else – you normally find the best ones do approach the topic in some way.
I have had a book review come out now in Medieval Warfare magazine in their first ever edition and will be having an introductory article out in two months’ time in the 2nd edition. On top of this I have been drafted in as an historical advisor for a children’s author who is writing a book about ancient Greece which I am very much looking forward to.
Plus 3 more book reviews, hence the new title bit at the top of the blog. I thought as I will be reading a lot of books over the coming year; why not chuck it up there for all to see?
Right, back to work . . .