Dubious historical resources/Talk

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Please feel free to add to this collection... sjc

WHAT a nice idea, Steve. I've already added one. I hope you've linked it to the history homepage! --MichaelTinkler

Yes, it was on my list, and also to the History standards page. sjc


"Dubious historical resources": Speaking as a layperson here ... Almost anything related to King Arthur. Almost anything related to history of Asian martial arts; ninja, Shaolin Temple, etc., etc.

Yes, I think that probably goes without saying. But some of the Arthurian stuff, for example, if handled correctly can be very revealing of the mores of the times as "unwitting testimony" e.g. Gawain and the Green Knight says quite a lot about mediaeval attitudes towards sin and guilt. What I think we're really trying to get at here, though, is the stuff which some historians tend to cite without comment and which (usually) is purported to be primary source material but is usually (at best) second hand, i.e. stuff masqueraded as authoratitive which isn't. sjc


tacitus! why didn't I think of that, since we kept writing and rewriting qualifiers on every use of him! --MichaelTinkler


Isn't this a matter of opinion? It really has no purpose in an encyclopedia --- those works mentioned here seem to have an ideological motive behind them. No writing, especially ancient, can be taken without a critical outlook. -- AnonUser

Hi, AnonUser, I think what we're really flagging up here is op.cits. which we need to look at very carefully when we see them in use as a justification. Of course, most historians are deeply cynical (kind of goes with the territory), and, furthermore, some have their own agendas (I have a few of my own). It is really a question of scale, and the purpose of the article here is to alert the reader to particularly contentious resources. I also envisage that we can use it as a kind of meta-article in its own right to discuss and frame particular responses to particular problems. I would also add that contemporary writing, as much, if not more, than ancient writing, should also be carefully scrutinised. sjc

I agree with Mr. Callaway. One of the challenges I regularly encounter both here and when teaching is that few non-historians have ever been taught to look at historical sources critically, nor to use other sources (literature, art, etc.) as historical documents. I think this page could end up being a very important section of Historiography -- but I also like it being here as a reference page...J Hofmann Kemp