Blog post #5: How do more recent fields (e.g. women’s & gender history, environmental history, others?) add to the study of history? Where or how do we see them engaging with older and ongoing fields of history? How do these diverse subfields compare in their strengths & limits?
New fields of history are providing new view points and sources to what history was. For example, African American history being applied to the history of the Civil War allows there to be new perspectives of the experiences during that war which provides a more rounded understanding to the historians. In short, these new fields provides history with new information, and while history most likely won’t change, the stories we use to describe it and understand it can.
We see newer histories and older histories interacting with each other all the time. In this day and age, the history of minorities and those who were previously not the focus of history, are being looked at more and added on to the old history. For example, the history of slavery and those oppressed in the United States has come more into the light which impacts people’s previous views on the history they knew. The new histories are in a way changing they way historians know history because they are becoming more aware to the fact that old history is not the only history that should be valued. As stated in the Down to Earth: Nature Agency, and Power in History by Ted Steinberg, the new histories are providing new viewpoints, which some historians see as detrimental the old history (799). While some see the interaction between these histories as beneficial to the learning process of what actually happened, others see it as unearthing information that was better left alone because the history that is known now is enough.
These fields are strong because they are bringing untold stories and ideologies into the light but at the same time they are not as powerful as the old histories. Some of the new histories are rejected making it difficult for them to be seen as important. Other histories when they are brought into the light, are seen as revolutionary and important additions to the previous histories. Also, some of the newer histories are seen as more relevant than others. History today is focusing very much on women and African American history, while others are not the focal point at the moment. That impacts their power because if people will not put the effort into knowing the less popular histories, their stories unfortunately become less powerful.
Steinberg, Ted. “Down to Earth: Nature, Agency, and Power in History.” The American Historical Review 107, no. 3 (2002): 798-820.