3 comments

  1. Really, great points here.

    I think Cronon echoes many of them in his latest piece in Perspectives: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2012/1205/Breaking-Apart-Putting-Together.cfm

    One of the most interesting points you make above (and Cronon makes in his piece) has to do with the monograph as the gold standard when it comes to communicating history. Monographs are usually very narrow and often employ a style most people don’t want to read. Monographs have a limited circulation and I wonder if fewer are being published today as a result of shifting market demographics. Articles can engage a somewhat bigger audience and are probably a bit more cost effective to produce but how many people have access outside colleges and universities?

    I was wondering if you had thoughts on other modes of communicating historical information? Obviously, monographs are important…we need them…but do we need to start thinking more broadly and valuing other modes of communication?

    I went to the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) conference recently and one of the pieces of history I encountered (and can’t stop talking about) was Jessica van Horssen’s dissertation that became a graphic novel: http://megaprojects.uwo.ca/asbestos/ it is just one example of someone taking an intellectual leap and communicating is a different way.

    I did some reflecting on Cronon’s latest piece: http://stillwaterhistorians.com/2012/05/12/coffee-at-tim-hortons-with-bill-cronon/ and wonder if, as he says, we need to value synthetic works that attack big questions? And maybe we also need to embrace new modes of communication more fully.

    Katherine O’Flaherty
    stillwaterhistorians.com

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