In Memoriam; or, Getting Personal

Musings

Last week I finally said goodbye to my Nan. I wouldn’t normally blog about something so personal, but her influence has guided so much of my academic career to date that she deserves a mention. Besides, the academic and the personal aren’t so easy to separate as we might imagine.

Oban Vera Pelley holidaying on Loch Etive in Scotland in 2002

History is written by people. Historians are not Objective History Machines, however much we might aim to be so. Something I try to emphasise to students is that the scholarly book or article they read is the product of a process, the work of an actual human being – with a life, with prejudices, with political views, passions, anxieties, obsessions, influences and the rest that comes with… well, being human. It’s not always easy to see, but it’s always there.

This was highlighted in an excellent blog post recently by historian of French folklore…

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