Big theoretical concepts can help us to see the world in new ways. Big theoretical concepts can help us see historical events in new ways. This is especially important for methods classes like the one I am teaching now, since these courses seek to bridge the gap between history as a set of stories that someone else tells, and history as a practice that students themselves can engage in. We want students to leave these classes loving history as much as when they came in, but we also want to destabilize the idea that there is one, “objective,” “true” narrative to be told about each historical event. We want them to think about how to select evidence, put that evidence in conversation with other scholars, and offer an interpretative framework for that evidence that nets something beyond arguing that a thing happened in a place and at a time. Theory helps with that framework.
Undergrad-me would not have believed that current-me would someday be singing the praises of theory. Luckily, a compatriot of undergrad-me was more prescient than I – Maria Cecire and Noorain Khan are responsible for the <a class="colorbox" …read more