First of all, I want to say that I never knew that reading about food could be so interesting! While it makes perfect sense that there would be history behind food around the world, I never thought of the concept before this course. Reading this text opened my eyes to a neat type of history that can give some more insight into more information about a specific area being studied. To explain more of what I mean by that, studying the history of food can help on in “examining race, class, gender, nation, and empire,” according to the text (Pilcher, 861).
Another aspect of this article that I found fascinating is the complexity of food history. The text mentioned a few times a number of different, sometimes non-historical, fields that can be needed when studying the history of food. To get a better picture of the background to a particular type of food eaten in a specific region, sometimes the humanities, social sciences, and neurosciences are needed (Pilcher, 862). Along with sometimes needing to branch out into other fields for research, I also find it interesting that students or “amateurs” can also be helpful in studying the history of food; these types of people are very helpful if they are workers of the food industry, or come from immigrant families (Pilcher, 863). I liked learning about that, because it shows that this field is inclusive, and while it does require some knowledge to participate, one does not have to have a PhD and ten-years experience in the field in order to help make contributions.
Sarah E Jones
I found the “Historical Interpretation” reading from Howell and Preventer to be more interesting than the “Source Criticism” section. While their section on criticisms of sources is of equal importance to be aware of, I found the other section to be informative.
I found the “seven-step process” of how to compare sources to be amusing, especially because the “process” was compiled from books written in the late-nineteenth century. Thankfully, within the five other steps that have practically no legitimate use in a serious historical work, there were at least two useful steps for source comparison. The steps that discuss how the “majority does not rule” with source content and that if two separately created sources agree on a subject, “the reliability of each is measurably enhanced” (Howell and Preventer, 70). I agree especially with the “majority does not rule” idea, because more than one source could be reporting on a false occurrence. Another problem that relates to this idea, is the problem of some sources reporting a specific information, with other sources not reporting that same specific information (Howell and Preventer, 74). This ties into the previous concept, because a number of works may leave out a piece of information, but that does not necessarily mean that the information left out did not happen or is not important.
Sarah E Jones
This reading was very insightful on the different types of sources and how they are useful to historians. At first, this did not appear to be a very interesting reading. However, once I actually started to read the chapter, I found it to be easy to read and somewhat fun to read. Even though some of the early content of the text went over concepts that I understood (such as saying the definition of a source), the work picked up and began to give me good information.
A concept that I found to be useful to be aware of is the difference of the “intentional” and “unintentional” reasons a particular source was created. One example the authors gave to explain this concept was with the video recording of President Kennedy’s assassination. The intention of the recording was to capture the president’s parade, while the unintentional outcome of the film was providing media documentation of a country’s leader being assassinated. The authors further their point of explaining why it’s important to understand this concept by saying that “historians must thus always consider the conditions under which a source was produced. . .but they must not assume that such knowledge tells them all they need to know about its ‘reliability'” (Howell and Preventer, 19). They are making sure that the reader knows that historians must consider the historical context of events surrounding the specific source before determining if it is of importance to their study.
The text also goes on to describe the amount of different sources there are out there, ranging from written documents to voice recordings. The authors comment on how technology has been adding new elements in historical research with the creation of photography, film, and the radio (Howell and Preventer, 24). I found this to be a good point to make, because with new ways to record history, there will be new mediums of sources that future historians would have to comb through in their own research.
Sarah E Jones
I found this reading to be insightful about the writing process of historians. Last semester, in the HIST297 course, I learned about the steps to writing a good historiography, so it will be fun to get to write a history paper in this course this semester. I have written a few history papers before ever taking the 297/298 courses, so even though I know some of the motions involved in the writing process, I have not yet learned a more detailed way of writing a more proper history paper. (However, in a moment of bragging, I did manage to get a good grade on that one paper.)
Specific advice that I found helpful in this text involved what was said more in the second half of the chapter. What was said about the possibility of historical documents being edited or altered on the internet was a point a never thought of before, but certainly do believe and will take that advice into consideration when checking the validity of certain sources. Growing up in this Internet era, I was always told in school that people can easily fabricate postings online. It is unfortunate that this extends to historical research being fabricated, but such is life in the information technology age. Another area of helpful advice were in the sections discussing proper steps to take when developing a topic for your paper. The specific advice of asking the questions “what is [the topic] about,” “why is it being written,” and “who is it for” when writing the paper were very helpful, because those questions could be the determining factor to if you have a good paper topic or not to write about.
Sarah E Jones