I have been panning in the river of Historiography this week. The experience has been intriguing, confusing, and entertaining, but I’ve yet to come up with nuggets of gold.
The immediate goal is to complete my historiography essay. I had more-or-less completed my first draft over Christmas Break, but the very thorough comments I received on my draft have sent me back the drawing board to deconstruct and attempt to build it up again. My primary difficulty is finding something useful of my own to contribute – at this point in my studies, I have a long way to progress along the spectrum of mimicry to originality. And the murkier the waters of historiographical theory, the easier it is to cling to the floats of previous critiques rather than push out on my own.
And the waters can be very murky, particularly in the areas of epistemology and linguistics/semiotics – what do we know, and how should we express it? What can we really say of the past? Is the past, in its traditional form of dates and events and characters, even really accessible, or should we rather focus on exploring the texts that have been left behind without always trying to get beyond them? What language, terms, and concepts can we use that won’t distort our subject or bring with them their own baggage? Can we justify holding on to imperfect terms for lack of anything better? What about larger structures and concepts?
And what if I just don’t know?
(At least the daffodils are still blooming, and require absolutely no intellectual ponderings to be gloriously lovely and cheerful, all on their own.)