Here’s my point: Early modern stuff matters. Books matter. The humanities matter. In a time when money is scarce and stupid ideas about universities and the humanities are flying about like nobody’s business, we should be speaking up and making the case for the value of reading and teaching and thinking.
Sarah at the very fab Wynken de Worde just recently posted the above in an inspiring reflection to mark the occassion of her blog’s first birthday. It’s already inspired at least one new blog which is worth following straight off the bat. We’ve been neglecting the history posts for a couple of weeks, but Thursday was once the day for them so here’s an attempt at making an effort.
Sarah’s point that early modernists should be making their history matter is a pertinent one, and you might remember me going on about the dangers of inconclusiveness before now. It’s just as dangerous, of course, to feel the need to force relevance upon historical study: no one moment in time can be a perfect allegory for another. History doesn’t and shouldn’t work like that. But, by the same token, in my own particular area of interest it seems sad to insist that, as Blair Worden recently did, “The only lessons to be drawn from it are to do with the consequences of destructive enthusiasm.” I like Sarah’s distinction between academic writing and blogging: you can get away, perhaps, with a bit more immediacy in a blog than you might in the properly cautious fields of academe (and there’s some interesting discussion of the relationship between the two in the comments at Wynken de Worde).
To whit, I was struck today, on looking through some notes, by David Norbrook’s description of the trial and execution of Charles I: “The king had been brought down from the eminence of his mysteries of state and forced to engage with his people.” [Writing the English Republic, pg. 199] The blogger in me can’t help but see present-day parallels. Such superficial similarities with the latest headlines, of course, are not what make history important. But to ignore them entirely might not help in making the case it is. One pithy way, maybe, in which the blog can help the historian.