Texts are “doing something”—that is they are purposeful,
they are written with intent.
Points of view make a difference in how one interprets
For example: Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion
• In Bacon’s thinking
• Contemporary perception—that is, by those who were present
• Interpreted through subsequent, outside analysis over time
Interpretation is never free from the reader’s presuppositions
One must try to understand the relationships between texts (primary sources) and the ‘reality’ they depict.
“Right” and “wrong”— is a naïve and inadequate way to read sources
Products of Scholarship -- Journal articles, books
In developing an interpretation of documents and texts, historians are aware of and evaluate competing interpretations of documents
One challenge is to develop engaged reconstruction of the world/events referred to in a text
Evaluate interpretations of documents and events
Revise and improve interpretations by repeated reference back to original document(s)
So, What Are You, As Student Historians Doing?
Scholarship (analysis and interpretation) vs. “Finding Things” and assembling them
As you construct your own interpretation, you must demonstrate through your research that you have engaged primary texts, and the arguments, disagreements and conversations of scholars (in their their attempts to construct meaning of events over time)