University of Maryland Objectively and Bias in Historical Writing Discussion – Assignment Help

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Discussion #1: Objectivity & Bias in Historical Writing

For this discussion please read the following: Beard – “That Noble Dream” (pay particular attention to pp. 82-89)’ and White – “The Burden of History.”

The Beard piece, “That Noble Dream” brings up a number of important questions for historians to consider (and are some ideas that you have been bantering around less formally in discussion the past few weeks).

-The first of these is the very nature of what the historian produces. Do we produce “the truth” about the past, what many students in the old 309 called “the true story” about the historical event they were going to write about, or do we produce an interpretation of the past?

-Linked to that is the question of is History a Science (like Chemistry, or what is called the positivist position ) or more of an Art (like English or Philosophy, or the idealists position)?

– Finally, we’ll discuss the role of the historian in the production of a work of History. What do we bring to the process? Can we be objective or is that even possible? How do our own views and experiences shape our work and should we let them (the entire question about objectivity)? How does this translate into how we teach history and historical events?

THE QUESTIONS: Please construct answers to the following questions – answers and details can be found in the readings listed above – so demonstrate your understanding of these readings in what you post to the classroom.

1. While some students talk of History as being about “truth” and “the true story”, according to our authors this week, History will never provide us with truth. Why is that? What do you (as well as the historians who authored our readings) see History as producing then? What does it mean that “History is an argument about the past”?

2. What role does the historian play in the creation of History? How do our personal experiences and background impact the works of History we create? Should historians strive to be objective or should they play an active part in the interpretation and creation of History? Can the historian remove all bias from their work?

3. Given your ideas about the first two questions, do you see History as a Science or an Art? What factors would make History more Science or more Art? Please discuss at length the White article, as he explicitly discusses this divide.

Post your initial post here. Then come back and respond to at least two more of your peers’ initial posts along with any questions addressed to you.

These are debatable points, as Beard points out. So feel free to debate your peers’ ideas. It is fine to disagree about these points, as historians do all the time in conferences and their articles and books. It is important to gain from this discussion a solid understanding of where you stand on these key issues and why you feel the way you do. The key point is to be able to defend your view points with fact based arguments. You will probably be asked further questions to help you define and defend your answer. That does not mean that your ideas are wrong. The intent is to help you further refine your views.

This dicussion is in Chicago style format.


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