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Western Civilization--European History, Empire

Customized guides to research for specific courses in Western civilization and European history

"Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose" ~ Zora Neale Hurston

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)