Provide a brief update on your progress drafting your research paper. What is going well? What has been frustrating? What are you discovering about your writing process—how do you like to work? What is the best time? Do you work from an outline? Do you keep a running outline? Did you begin by free-writing, and only later start putting your ideas into a coherent order? Do you edit as you go, or generate a mass of material before going back to edit and revise? Do you cite as you work? Do you prefer long sittings, or short bursts of activity? Do you write things out by hand or work exclusively on your computer? Reflect on your process—it’s good to be self-conscious about what works for you.

I have almost completed my research paper. All I have left to do the majority of is create my PowerPoint and my notes to go off of while I am presenting. Writing and organizing my paper has been going very well. Thankfully I have not had any writers block this time. There are things, however, that I am finding frustrating. One of those is that the sources that I need are pretty scattered. One source may be used in a small part of my paper, such as those on the Romanovs, and then not again. It can be a little annoying to have to track down these random sources, but I am aware that this is a part of research work. Another thing that can be a little frustrating is there are not tons and tons of sources on BOTH the Civil Rights Movement and communism. The sources on each of them separately are endless, but the two together is a much narrower field. In my writing process I begin very simply. I like to try to psychologically trick myself into thinking that all I am writing is a paragraph. I will set up what I want to say in each paragraph, and write paragraph by paragraph until my paper is complete. I usually overthink what I write, so I do tend to edit as I go. I will, however, read completely through my paper once it is complete to check for misspellings, typos, and sentences that I want to change. I will write by hand if I do not have my computer with me, but I type exclusively. Any writing time that I can get, whether short or long, is good for me. I do prefer, however, long sittings when writing or doing any homework. I have ADD, so it is hard for me to go from activity to activity, because it can distract me. When all is considered I think I am pretty good at writing papers. I enjoy them more then tests, because it is easier to get my ideas out, and I work better over long periods of time (being under a crunch of fifty minutes gives me anxiety).

How much fun are citations? Why do historians emphasize proper citation, and why are the requirements for citations so precise? What do you think might account for the various citation styles (and accordingly the different information that has to be included) in different disciplines? Why might some styles be poorly suited for some types of sources, and what types of ambiguities/failures have you noticed in using Chicago (if you haven’t noticed any yet, try looking for good explanations for how to cite photographs, movies, physical artifacts, etc.)?

To me personally, Citations are a necessary evil. Citations need to be done, but I truly have come to detest writing them over the years. Proper citations are emphasized by historians, because it allows writers to be given credit for their work. Writers work very hard for long periods of time on their articles, and they deserve to be acknowledged for what they have created. Properly citing a source also gives readers the ability to find the piece of writing that you obtained your information from, which can help them develop their own opinion on the piece as well. The style of citations can be different, and this makes sense because researchers have to use them for different subject matter. Citations are used mostly in English and History, but nearly every subject will require a student to cite a source at some point for an assignment. I have used both MLA and Chicago style citations, and I will say that Chicago is much more detailed. Chicago is definitely more suited to History assignments, because it has more options (at least on the University of Mary Washington Library page) for citations depending upon your source.

However, the reason why I call citations a necessary evil at the beginning of this post is because they can be difficult. There are several issues that I personally have with citations. The first issue that I have is with Programs/online generators that claim to produce a “proper” citation. Each of these programs will provide a slightly different citation, and a lot of them, like Zotero, are extremely difficult to use. Further frustration can be caused if you are using a source that is more ambiguous (a song, a photo, an advertisement, ect…), because it can be difficult to classify it according a school’s online citation manual. The final issue that I have with citations is with the instructors. Requirements that instructors have for citations will vary widely, and this can cause major confusion and frustration for students. This confusion affects students negatively, because they end up receiving lower grades on their work for not having their bibliography EXACTLY how that particular teacher requires it (let us also keep in mind that students work on multiple assignments, with multiple citations, for different classes, at the same time).

Spend a moment and consider what makes up your current digital identity. Write down what you think people would find out about you if they were to search for you on Google (or Bing or whatever. Then do an actual search and see what you find. How does your perceived presentation of your digital identity compare with your actual one? Are there elements you feel are consistent with what you want that digital identity to look like? Elements that you don’t want contributing to your digital identity?

My current digital identity consists of my Youtube channel, my Facebook, my website that I made for my History 297 class, and I suppose my old Myspace account (although I haven’t been onto Myspace in seven years). I am not entirely sure what someone may find if they searched my name on Google or Bing, but I think it would be my Facebook or Youtube.

After actually doing a Google search for my name I discovered that I was right. Individuals on Facebook with the name Mackie Williams came up first, and when I clicked on the link my profile was at the top. My Youtube account was the fourth result as well when I searched my name. I feel that my perceived digital identity is pretty accurate to my actual digital identity. After seeing my digital identity, I feel that most of the elements are consistent with what I want my digital identity to be. All of my family is on Facebook, so I am not able to simply post anything. My parents also always stressed to me from an early age that everything you put on the internet is permanent, and to never post anything that I may regret. While I do speak my mind on Youtube and Facebook, I feel that my upbringing has made me careful about what I put online.

BLOG POST 5: Digital resources and production–what is the utility of digital tools (used insources and research, presentation and communication, analysis, etc) for historians? For other professionals?

Digital resources and production–what is the utility of digital tools (used insources and research, presentation and communication, analysis, etc) for historians? For other professionals?

 

Digital resources offer historians and other professionals a simple way to access information from around the world. Rather than having to travel long distances in order to view primary source documents, one can now view them from the comfort of his or her own home. Any researcher can now utilize more accurate and valuable information for whatever topic they may want to know more about. The internet is a lovely resource, and I personally believe that it has allowed the world to take a large step into an age where research can be conducted at the touch of a button. Technology has allowed for research to become more accurate, more thorough, and easier to complete. Finally, digital resources have also allowed us to present our research in a new and innovative way as well. Programs, such as Prezi and Powerpoint, give us the ability to compile our information in a way that is simple to construct and entertaining to view. Technology is a great thing, and the fact that we can embrace it as researchers allows us to achieve a better quality project.

*Blog post 4: What do these more recent fields (women’s/gender, social and cultural, ethnohistory, environmental history) offer to the study of history as a whole? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do you feel about them personally?

New fields of historiography offer many things to the study of history. Women’s/gender, social, cultural, ethnohistory, and environmental history offer insight into other nations around the world. Learning how other nations live their lives is not only interesting, but it makes America a more learned nation. For me personally, these studies in history allow us to look at history in a new way. Women and individuals of other ethnic groups have often been looked down upon throughout history, and so there is not that much material that is covered about them; causing these new fields of historiography to be fresh and undiscovered. The main strength of these new fields of historiography is that they cover new information that has not been discussed before. One weakness of these fields, however, is that they do not have many sources of information to go off of as far as research is concerned. Although one could suppose that this could also be a strength of these new historiographical fields, as the majority of the sources that historians use to research from these standpoints are primary sources. Primary sources, while one could argue may be one sided given the time period that they were written in, are often very good sources of first hand information. Although the research process can be harder, one cannot argue that these new fields of historiography offer a view of the subject that has never before been seen

Traditional Vs. Non-Traditional fields of Historiography

*Blog post 3: Traditional fields–do you find more “traditional” historiographical fields (military, political/diplomatic, economic) appealing, and why/why not? What are their strengths/weaknesses? Why do you think historians have expanded, complicated, challenged these genres, like they did in rethinking their approach to Colonial America

I personally find traditional and non-traditional historiographical fields appealing. There are so many different and unique ways to research a historical event, that one cannot really place judgment on what ideas a researcher may have about his or her topic. Traditional and non-traditional fields both have their pros and cons to deal with. Using a traditional historiographical field allows for a historian to access a wide variety of research material, while using a non-traditional historiographical field allows for an individual to be the first to share a new take on a well-known event that occurred in the past. The exact opposite is true when one considers the downsides of choosing between taking a traditional verses a non-traditional point of view on historical research. A non-traditional way of presenting one’s research can leave a historian limited when it comes to resources that he or she can use for their work, while one risks being redundant and presenting a piece of writing that has already been heard should the traditional approach be taken. Within recent years, researchers have challenged and attempted to expand these traditional and non-traditional approaches to research. I personally believe that this is especially true in research that has to do with Colonial America. There are massive amounts of research that have been completed on the settling of America, and one cannot doubt that wanting to avoid repetition is what inspires historians to look for new takes on Europe’s introduction to the New World.

Blog post 2: Parkman and Jennings in historical context–what contemporary events/developments shaped their approach to historical thinking and writing?

Parkman: Francis Parkman was born in 1823, and passed away in 1893. Parkman was alive through the civil war and the first part of the Gilded Age. During his lifetime many people in American society were promoting westward expansion. Parkman was alive to witness slavery, and to witness the Native Americans being pushed off of their land. Many will say that Parkman uses crude terms to refer to African-Americans and Native Americans, but one must take into account the time period in which he is writing. For men and women of Parkman’s generation, these feelings towards other races were normal. One must realize that Parkman’s way of thinking and writing is not “wrong”, but simply unfamiliar to those of the present generation.

Jennings: Francis Jennings was born in 1918, and passed away in 2000. Jennings was alive to witness many changes in American society. Being labeled as a revisionist historian is not very surprising given the literal revising that was being done to American ideals in the mid twentieth century. One can notice that Jennings has a much more politically correct take on his historical writing. He was interested in the elitist views of men from the Gilded Age and others from the Colonial era. Seeing gender equality and racial equality being achieved through the sixties and seventies were a few of the many events that shaped Jennings historical writing.

Professionalization of history–how are popular and academic histories different, and why are those differences significant?

Popular histories cover topics that will be more likely to attract a wide variety of readers. These histories are presented in a way that is more approachable with a format that is easier to understand. Popular histories do not require as much tedious study as academic histories. An example of popular history would be the death of princess Diana. When she passed away in an unfortunate car accident the incident was covered by media from all over the world. The event (not her death itself) is not complicated to understand, and if someone wanted to write about the princess there is easy access to multitudes of information regarding her and her unfortunate passing.

Academic histories will usually cover topics that are more specific in nature. They will also contain a much higher level of vocabulary and are often written by a collaboration of authors. Those who typically construct academic histories are experts who have spent many hours studying the topic that they are writing on. An example of an academic history would be someone writing about how airplanes have been constructed throughout history. One would need to have a certain level of knowledge about air travel in order to accurately write this type of article, and the information needed may be harder to come by. In addition to that, the author will be attracting a more specific group of people rather than a broad one.

These different forms of historiography help add to the wide variety of forms that historiography can take. History is an amazing subject because one can take just about any approach imaginable to talk about the same event. Those who write popular histories will argue that academic histories seem cold and unreadable. Those who write academic histories will argue that popular histories are undermining the work that they put into becoming a professional (in other words why would one go to school and obtain a degree in history if just anyone can write it). Although historians on both sides have their differences, each has the same goal of producing an accurate and educational presentation of the past.