The Real History

A year ago, I read a book on the history of academic women's studies called: "When Women Ask the Questions: Creating Women's Studies in America," by Marilyn J. Boxer. While I'm sure some of my classmates would describe the book as staid and boring, I thought it was bearable at the least. I'm sure they'll all comment if I miss the mark on this one, but I thought that it was pretty complete and accurate.

I got the feeling that despite the fact that history is largely an interpretive endeavor and therefore not apt for judgement of "true" and "false," but I remember from this book getting the sense that she reported a series of events that, in fact, really did happen, pretty much the way she said it.

Now, to be fair, maybe the reason I felt this way is that she was telling a narrative that I was familiar with, and could then--and particularly now--supplement as needed. But I think there might be something more.

Boxer (and there are other historians who do this; we'll get there in a second) accomplishes this because, rather than angst and attempt to eliminate her bias' it's just out there. These histories are effective because the writer is very through and on top of that reader always knows where the author stands. At the same time

I was talking with my parents about this, and they immediately citied Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution as a similar sort of thing, which--though I am much less familar--I think is a much less insular example of this same kind of sub-genere.

I think it's a cool kind of writing/book, and I tend to think of my historian characters as fitting into this model (this is how this connects up with the previous post), but I'm interested in hearing what the rest of you with an interest or expertise in history have to say about this.

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