I’ve been home for a few days now, and have enjoyed some rest and relaxation. I also spent some time reflecting on this past year of school. As I was thinking of my history classes, I think I might have found a topic to talk a bit about.
Back when I took historical methods in my sophomore year, we talked about some vague comments that you can use in history that makes it sound like you know what all you are talking about. The term in that class was “perhaps.” Since then, I have been thinking more about other terms that history students use.
I realize I am revealing a trick-of-the-trade for history students to hide that they did not actually do a reading, but I think this can only challenge us to either actually do the reading, or at least be clever enough to find a new term. In my history classes when we would do readings, I found students — myself included — would read a part of a source and say “I found that interesting.” Around the end of February in my Crusades class, I thought to myself. . . “Of course it is interesting you are reading sources that are hundreds of years old, they better be interesting.” At that point, I began to stop using the phrase “I found that interesting” when I talked about sources because I felt like I was cheapening the source.
Now I try to pinpoint key points of sources and rather than calling them “interesting” I discuss what makes them stand out from the rest of the “interesting” source. Does it break with what other author’s have said? How does the diction of this sentence prove a larger point? What does this point summarize?
I just think the term “I found it interesting” just doesn’t contribute much to the greater discussion of a document. The sources are intrinsically interesting, it is the job of the historian to find what parts are especially noteworthy and help make the document breathe and come alive for everyone.
Hopefully my professors, like Dr. Fea, will only skim read this article so that my classmates don’t throw me too far in the dog house. However, I’d like to challenge all the readers on my blog to not use the phrase “I found it interesting” and instead find a point of the text and talk about its contribution to the rest of the source. Let’s prove that we are actually doing the reading, and that we are understanding texts as a whole. It was a hard challenge for me to take, and one that I am still working on fully accomplishing, but I cannot tell you how much it has helped me when it has come to reading my sources and speaking with my peers and professors about them.