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Evolution, labels, and Things

January 5, 2017

It just occurred to me that the work I’ve been doing in the past (too many!) years represents a turning point in my personal evolution as a historian. I first identified as a literary historian with my Master’s thesis, which charted conceptions of the Otherworld in the earliest written Irish and Welsh literature. Then I presented myself as a cultural historian in my Ph.D. coursework and earliest iterations of my dissertation. Today I realized that the work I’m doing is best described as socio-political history. What’s next, I wonder? And do labels really matter all that much in this discipline? I’ve never really subscribed to them. My work has taken many weird paths and, as a result, incorporates literature, psychology, anthropology, archaeology, and cultural geography. It’s all fascinating to me, and I don’t really see the need to neatly compartmentalize. Today I’m a socio-political historian, tomorrow…? Who knows! But I can’t stop to think – or write – about it much longer, my only job right now is to get this Unwieldy Thing* written.

*This is my new official term for the dissertation, but sometimes the nickname ‘Beast’ seems more appropriate

Edit 04/11/2017: It turns out I was wrong again – I’m actually a straight-up social historian, no hyphens. See? Labels just don’t stick.

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