Blog 5: Women’s, Gender, and Environmental History.

Women’s and Gender History have been seen to be more popular in modern days because of the outbreak of the feminist movement across the globe. Same goes for that of Environmental History, the increase in awareness for keeping or ecosystems clean has made it more of a point to look at hoe environments were throughout history. Women’s history is a subfield of history that focuses on the perspective of women throughout history, and Gender history is essentially the same, just focusing on gender instead.

            As seen throughout my time in school, most of the historical learning we have had, up to this point, have been based around the perspective that a male has been the leader/cause behind most historical events taken place. Even when it came to the industrialization of America, women were seen throughout many watch factories because their nimble hands were better at crafting the small pieces that were included in the watch. Also, in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, when chief of construction, Washington Roebling, had to sit out construction because Caissons disease, his wife, Emily Roebling, took over the head of construction. Without the help of Emily Roebling, the Brooklyn Bridge may have never gotten finished. The point in Women’s History is to make sure we don’t overlook the importance of a women’s role throughout history. Women’s history is very close to that of Gender history, which focuses on the perspective of gender throughout history.

            Environmental History is also important because of the impact it is having on our world today. When trying to find new ways to innovate and make our environment cleaner, we must look back on how the ecosystems were in the past. In the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s, the attempt to be able to preserve and package food was huge in America. They would have factories full of disassembly lines, where they would break apart body parts of livestock to preserve and package. Anything they were not using was burnt and sent uo into the sky in a black smoke. Back in the 1800’s, black smoke in the sky represented that your town was a more developed estate. This is seen completely different today. Black smoke, in modern time, represents pollution, which is a big downside to the factories we have across the globe. Without knowing how they did things in the past we will never know how to fix them, making environmental history very important in today’s society.

            Women’s and gender history, along with environmental history, are somewhat recent forms of history, but they should still be respected as such. All three had such a huge impact on how the world is shaped today and simply overlooking it would be ignorant to historians all over.

Blog 4: Utilizing Fictional Work.

This week in HIST -297 we were asked to read the first half of Gene Luen Yang’s book, Boxers, where she focuses on the Boxer Rebellion in china from1898-1900 The difference between this novel and those we have already looked at this semster is that this is a graphic novel. Meaning the author tells his/her story through mainly pictures and only a few words, almost like a comic book. Though reading books, like Yang’s Boxers can give you some solid information on the rebellion, but it can also lead you to believe false history because of the way the author stretches the narrative to make their graphic novel more entertaining.

One way to avoid being mislead by a book such as this graphic novel would be to look at prior writings on the event. Knowing the book is animated should give away that it probably is not the most trustworthy of sources, therefore, doing some background research on a topic helps weed out the bad information in a novel. For example, after reading a novel, the reader may be interested in watching a movie about the book they read, but as they watch the film they can point out the obvious differences in the book and movie. This goes the same for this graphic novel, after reading Paul Cohen’s History in Three Keys, I was able to point out the parts where it seemed that Yang was stretching the narrative and can realize that it is for entertainment. Whereas, those with no prior information on the Boxer Rebellion, may believe what Yang put in her graphic novel to be what actually happened at said event.

Blog 3: Literature Review Topic

I decided to make the focus of my literature review on the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, over throwing Saddam Hussein’s government, and how it sparked the much controversial Iraq War. I will mainly be focusing on the ways historians write about the invasion based on their personal views of how they think the situation in Iraq should have been handled. I think it is interesting to study the historiography of this event because it, in one way or another, led to the war in Afghanistan, which is the longest war the US has ever partook in. One of the sources I will be using in my literature review, named Explaining the Iraq War : Counterfactual Theory, Logic and Evidence, states “The generally accepted historical account of the 2003 Iraq ear is very clear – this was a war of choice, not one of necessity. The decision to attack Saddam Hussein’s regime on March 19, 2003 was a product of political biases, misguided priorities, intentional deceptions and grand strategies of President George W. Bush and prominent ‘neoconservatives.”(p. 1) This statement, found in the introduction, shows that historians chose sides when it came to writing about the war in Iraq. It will be interesting to see the amount of historians who will disagree with the invasion led by George W. Bush.

Blog 2: Military History Old and New.

This week in HIST 297 we were asked to read Robert M. Citino’s “Military Histories Old and New: A Reintroduction”. In this reading Citino goes in depth on the differences between how history was recorded in the past as compared to present day. He explains the three types of history that historians have focused on/ shifted their focus on throughout time and how it has impacted the way history is perceived by modern day viewers or readers.

Citino first brings up the argument that the access to media and being able to watch historical documentaries on the History Channel and in war movies is shrinking the historical footprint made by early historians. This argument piggy backs off of the discussion we had last week as a class about the differences between popular and academic history. When it comes to war movies, the writers and creators of the movie are more than likely going to glorify the historical event by adding fake scenarios or focusing on a less important aspect of a war because of the attraction it brings to the viewers. This impacts how the history of the event is actually perceived by the viewer and can put effect peoples recollection of the event.

The three types of historical scholars that have came about throughout the years are; Social, Cultural, and those who focus on the battle itself. Citino explains that “old” history focused more on the operational imperatives on the battlefield, they analyze how and why armies go into battle and use certain strategies to try and take an advantage on the opponent. The social historians focus on the relationship between the armies and the societies that are dealing with them in their territory. Lastly, cultural historians, the “new” wave of history, focuses on the history of memory and how its impacted historical readings. In simpler terms, “old” history focuses on the commitment to the battlefield and campaign traditions, whereas, “new” history is strongly interested in social and cultural analysis.

Citino states that older historians are not as accepting to this new way of writing about military history because they are not focusing on the main reasons for going into battle and the strategies used by armies, but more focused on the cultural impact the historical event made. Citino states that the social and cultural wave of military historical writings is “perhaps the most important development in historical research over the last decade” and that “military historians need to become less resistant to contemporary trends in research- from social history to post modernism to the new cultural history”. (pg 1090)

Blog 1: Academic vs. Popular History

This week in HIST 297, we were asked to write about the standards that make up an academic, professional piece of history and compare it to that of a “Popular” piece of history.

You would think the difference between academic and popular history would be expertise behind the author of the piece, such as historians with PhD’s in their respective fields, but it actually stems farther than that. Popular history is more exciting and easier for the reader to digest, whereas, academic history is known to be dense and harder to understand, which led many academics to change their style of writing to a more popular approach. This way of writing upsets real historians because of the lack of analysis and argument written in popular history.

A few of the standards that help differentiate Academic and Popular history include; Formality, Accuracy, and Precision. Formality would be the way its written, it must be written in a professional manner, sticking to the facts and not being opinionated in any way. Accuracy would be based upon the actual facts. Popular history has a way of hiding the more important information and bringing up only what the people are interested in, whereas, academic history writes of the most important events and what led to and concluded them. Lastly, precision is based on how the information is given. In popular writings the narrative is more broad to make it more entertaining, but in academic writings the facts and narrative is precise.

These standards matter because the way events are recorded in history has an impact on how we perceive history. For example, the invention the “Spinning Jenny”, invented by James Hargreaves, was made to make it easier to get the cotton seeds pulled from the cotton so it could be made for textiles. The way they have written about this invention in writings made it seem as if every farmer owned a Spinning Jenny, but in actuality, it was expensive to buy one of these things and even harder to get overseas in America. Farmers even started to steal the idea and try and make their own because of the inability to purchase one. Though, the spinning jenny did make an enourmous impact on the textile industry across the world, it is percieved in somewhat of a different manner because of the writing style. Like I said, Popular history writings tend to broaden the narrative, whereas, an academic writing may have held the more detailed information on the hardships that came along with the creation of this great invention.