Wednesday, 26 September 2012

So It Begins

University of Sheffield's Coat of Arms

After two weeks of orientations and introductions, classes finally kicked off this week. I'm excited to finally start working on history and learn more about the profession as a whole. Oddly enough, I started my academic career in an archeology class focusing on my period of interest which ranges from 1455 to 1603. While the Tudors came to power after the battle of Bosworth in 1485, the years prior are important as well for they include the nobility civil war known as the Wars of the Roses. This series of conflicts essentially dragged England from a medieval existence to a renaissance state. Battle tactics changed, the gun was used in anger for the first time and the monarchy finally realized it had to rely on a standing military force rather than men gathered under the banners of loyal nobles.

The class itself is led by a very nice and seemingly brilliant professor. I am looking forward to reading some of his work. Even better, we have several field trips scheduled which includes a visit to a ruined monastery. Being able to go "hands-on" is what I really want to advocate as a teacher. Why? I feel it lends credence and power to history. This isn't your parent's history class where one memorizes dates, people and battles. I want to take it a step further and introduce critical thinking that makes students look at the whys and hows. Including things that can be touched, viewed, heard and tasted brings history to life and I really hope I can energize my students to see the subject in a better light.

And then...

I just returned from a research skills seminar. My reaction: "What the hell am I doing here?" Seriously, everyone around me seem to be history nuts (in a good way) having done their undergraduate work in the same area. Here I am coming from the business world with next to no clue on how to conduct proper historical research let alone cite, footnote, etc.
What amazes me even more is how specific people want to get and how they found their subject in the first place! One wants to focus on Sheffield's involvement in the Spanish Civil War, another wants to study civil rights within the American military during Vietnam, another is looking at jewish populations in post WWI London and another is looking at mining in Chile. The list goes on.
And what about me? I want to do something Tudor related which everyone and their mother already knows about! I need to get more specific and fast. The end of October is fast approaching for synopsis submittal.

Still, the business student in me is wondering how I can find a subject that I can best manipulate for job opportunities back home. Never let work go to waste they say. That same student wonders what the person studying jewish populations is going to do with their research. Besides writing a book or teaching jewish history, it seems that its all for nothing. Then again, perhaps I am looking at it from the wrong perspective...I need to free myself from constantly having to justify decisions as to how they can best affect my chances going forward. Maybe I just pick something I care about and throw caution to the wind. History is history after all, right?
My quest to find a research topic and question will be covered in some later posts.

For now, its time to read. A lot. No seriously, there's not enough hours in the day to read what they've given us.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy reading your Blogs.
    History has been known to repeat itself.
    Maybe you can compare the past with the decline of today's middle class. I can see a best seller in your future!