I have just finished the final paper for one of my classes. And I am happy! This class has been a bit of pain in the ass all this semester. It's one of those classes you only take because it's required. We've spent the entire semester looking at different theories and methodologies for the practice of history. As a public historian, this is not of that much use to me. I understand why they want everyone to take it and I accept that. But since it's not that important to me, and given that it's a fuckin' pass/fail class, I've spent much of the semester asking "Why should I care or put too much effort into this?" That's not to say that I've slacked off in the class or anything like that, but other things have taken priority on my "To Do" list.
One of the most aggravating things about this class has been the professor. She and I have not always seen eye to eye on things, and (personally) I have found her style a bit grating at times. She is very intelligent and very invested in making the class do what it's supposed to. No question about that. There have just been a few times that she and I have had fundamental disagreements on things, with neither one of us willing to give. From my perspective (and I want to make this clear - this is how I view things, so this is totally biased), she is one of those people who seems to feel that because of who she is, where she comes from, and how she was trained as a historian, she has some kind of special insight to all aspects of a few things. Without going into details, suffice to say that she seems to think that she has the authority to speak on all aspects of gender, religion, and the practice of history. On this last one, she has basically come out and said that she thinks that public historians are incapable of being objective in their research because they are working for clients. This, of course, annoys me quite thoroughly. I have tried to point out that historians working in academe also have clients, it's just that our clients pay us with money and their clients pay them with tenure positions, book and article publications. (She didn't much like that statement.) Now, I am more than willing to admit that my being annoyed is a big part of the reason I am so unwilling to back down on some things.
So, back to the final paper. This was to be 12-15 pages on "What is history?" The way the assignment was written, we could either focus on how people have thought about history over time, or how they have practiced it, realizing of course that there is a great deal of overlap between the two. I chose the second, focusing on how the practice of history has slowly but continuously moved away from being a strictly academic one, and toward being public focused. In other words, as historians have expanded their subject areas to include more than just dead white men in politics and the military, they have been forced to also expand their methods of presentation to include more than just teaching undergrads and writing wordy monographs for other academics.
Needless to say, my paper is a Big Fucking Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. But, the pin has been pulled (the paper is done) and it has been lobbed (and has been turned in to her box). Now we just wait for the fall out!