Howdy, friends: today’s post is a transparent cry for help! I’m teaching historiography again to our incoming graduate students. (“Historiography” is the obscurantist term we use for a course that’s meant to be something like “introduction to historical practice.” I think we should just change the name to the latter term and stop intimidating our graduate students.) I’ve organized the course around an exploration of various scandals or ethical controversies in the practice of history recently, and I need your advice before I submit my book orders for the fall semester.
First, I’d like your suggestions for a memoir or reflexive book by a historian. In the fall of 2011, the last time I taught the course, I used Richard White’s Remembering Ahanagran: A History of Stories (1998; 2003), a book about White’s attempts to research the stories his mother told about her family and girlhood in Ireland. It was very good, but almost too subtle for my purposes. We also read the following week Debra Gray White’s Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008), which I will keep on the syllabus this time around because I found it incredibly effective and moving series of essays written from the margins rather than the center of the profession. Continue Reading »