Style Notes (II): Adam Thorpe

Crafting metaphors is dangerous for historians. They may enrich prose, illustrating and amplifying meaning, making ideas seem real and concrete, but when a historian develops and grows a metaphor, they are at risk of giving life to a distortion. Clarification and illustration fade into simplification and emplotment. The metaphors we use rarely come to us ready […]

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The Academic Careers Arms Race

This post has been brewing a long time, and it comes from an angry place: I am worried about how academic careers have changed, and continue to change. I would argue there is something like an arms race going on at the lower levels of the academic career ladder, and this is most definitely a Bad […]

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Style Notes: Robert Darnton

One thing that I think blogging can usefully do that historians don’t often do in other, more formal writing spaces is think about the basics of writing style in history. It’s actually the kind of thing that many of us – I suspect – do all the time in the pub, over coffee, or even […]

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Cheese Is Not the Answer

There are many ways to be small. But when historians talk about little history, it strikes me that they often mean the village study, the regional history, the family, individual, building, or object. They mean ‘micro-history’, which finds its opposite in ‘macro history’. On the other hand, they might even mean chronologically small. See the […]

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The Singing Postman

I spent a lot of time during my PhD research tracking down individuals. It was all part of a scheme (that looks increasingly foolish with hindsight) to identify the people who sang songs and told stories for the folklorist Félix Arnaudin from about 1870-1914. There were a lot of them. And some were only identified in […]

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Life After the PhD

This is the (lightly edited) text of a talk I gave for History Lab Plus at a really useful day on ‘Getting Grants, Getting Published and Staying Sane: Life After the PhD’ which was held at the Institute of Historical Research on Friday 15th July. My panel was called ‘Making the Transition’, so I talked […]

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