Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Can you believe it? 13 books! THIRTEEN! That's the largest number of books I have ever had to purchase for a single semester at college. It's borderline insane, but I'm not that shocked. Where most other classes require two to three thick texts, history classes tend to require three to six small texts. It's what I like to call the historical biblio-imperative: the belief that history, by its very nature, is fragmented and subject to countless diverse interpretations, thus requiring a heterogeneous assortment of texts to conclude actual causal relationships. Subjects that could be, and often are, summarized and condensed carry with them skepticism on the part of historians as an oversimplification of what really happened. As a result, you end up having to read more than one interpretation or shard of history to try and understand the whole.

In short, historians want your money, and maybe even part of your soul, for as much time as they spent writing their books. A key case in point: "Collapse" by Dr. Jared Diamond (or anything by Jared Diamond). Sure, he's not a historian, but he writes about history as if he is. His books, while highly informational and good reads, are saturated and written in such a small font that they almost appear as pointilism in the grand scheme of the reading.

I'm not ragging on Dr. Jared Diamond, his writings or his profession or anyone else within that profession (especially since I plan on becoming a professor in the social science arena as well); but rather, the time required to read the often verbose texts flung at students like an extra plate of thanksgiving delights after an already hearty serving. Or two.

The point is that, while I love the social sciences--history, anthropology, sociology, and, of course, communication--I also realize that there is a limit to how much time and energy one can truly devote to any single study or class within a semester. Graduate school has yet to disabuse my perception of this, if it can. However, if graduate school deconstructs this "supposed" mythos that I have about the historical biblio-imperative, then, quite frankly, it means I'm either not good with time management or I'm just plain lazy. Those late nights and coffee-driven mornings serving simply as a reflection of the two combined.

Whatever the case may be, I'm still welcoming this semester's classes and its onslaught of books. I just hope I'm not drowning in them later. Damn those history classes! Damn them though I love them!!

Images courtesy of 11010010 and ugladew, respectively. Available free for use at stock.xchng.


RockSteady said...

Perhaps this makes me a geek to admit this, but I was always all about my history classes. Thus, I became a history minor by default. Seriously. I didn't even know I was close until my advisor told me I was 3 credits away from a minor. And you do/will drown in the books, but it's friggin' great.

Thister said...

Hey! Geeks of the world unite!! I am all about my history classes as well, and it too is my minor. Truthfully I love almost every book selected for the courses I have taken, and, when given the time, would glady re-read them again. I think, however, sometimes I worry too much that the balance of books might be too much to handle at any given time.

You're right, though. I will most likely drown in the books in due time, but that's how it is. I'll still do well as long as I believe.

Bree said...

I'm supposed to pick up my new best friends at the bookstore today. 11 friends, can you imagine? Each at over 1,000 pages. I'm soooooooo excited.


Thister said...

Oh! Well, you're in a better position than I! XD

Yeah, I bet you'd kill for a Lit class. By the time you get out of law school, though, you'll be runied on literature and you'll only want to read current cases in the news. Kind of like Nancy Grace, only you'd be better at it!

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