The new practical studies of history such as women studies or environmental history have a common trend of examining past situations in a new light. These fields present older cases in history and view the information in a new lens. For example, the Industrial Revolution throughout the 1800’s was primarily focused on the emergence of steam power and mechanical weaponry that would lead to trench warfare; however, new environmental historians view the Industrial Revolution as an environmental factor, leading to increased pollution, degradation of the environment, and the development of technology that impacts nature today. This phenomenon has happened before with changing the views that historians focus on throughout research with an emphasis on military history. Past military historians viewed some major battles as a set piece in that the battle consisted of only itself while not completely focusing on the after effects of a singular event. Through these new fields of history, historians today have wider depth to draw on when researching potential topics. From focusing on the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 to the effect of Pearl Harbor on women’s rights in the 1940’s, historians can narrow in on an increasingly specific topic to widen the scope of past historical thinking and expand on modern historical literature. The evolution of history is becoming more and more expansive in terms of topics and research allowing new fields to present themselves to their fullest extent.
Historical fiction sources in their own right are based on fact in order to provide a specific and plausible course of action within the historic novel. Boxers and Saints, as an example of historical fiction, derives on key factors within the Boxer Rebellion to create the story in the novel. Even as fiction, Boxers and Saints still can provide historical meaning because of its ability to produce an alternate path. Explaining alternative events requires immense understanding of a topic to support the branching scenerio in a realistic manner. Using professional sources is required even for a historic fictional account as the basis for the novelization of the historic event needs to be accurate to properly explain the story. Specifically, in Boxers and Saints, key events are mentioned and exploited in the graphic novel; however, due to the fact that first person accounts of the key events in primary sources is scarce, so liberties need to be taken to further explore a subject.
Historiography focuses on the development of a secondary historical source’s argument, resource/citation allocation, and word choice. A literature review in historiographical terms is similar to a rhetorical analysis in English studies except the review is a considerable amount of historical analysis over writing style, even though that is considered in the literature review. In particular, when researching the differing opinions on Hitler’s ability/effectiveness to jump start the German economy from near 40% unemployment to full employment in three years and the effect of deficit spending in the German economy in regards to a specific macroeconomic model, the literature differs in terms of which factors were most responsible for the change. Richard Overy, the common authority on the topic and author of two books titled The Nazi economic recovery and War and Economy in the Third Reich, challenges the common thinking surrounding the rearmament of Germany from 1933-1939 and its effect vs. Nazi work creation programs and their respective effect on the German economy. There are many sources that differ on the inputs in the German economy that brought the nation out of the depression, making their different opinions and research great to review.
Citino discusses the disconnect between military history and the way that historians view the necessity of teaching focused military history to students. Citino’s argument is that the golden age of military historical thought is waning but the clash between academics pursuing increased application and education of military history and the scholars advocating for a broader curriculum for students and researchers results only in more confusion. The disagreements over amount of historical depth that military history provides educators and students ultimately undermines the necessity of its teaching, as Citino discusses, but a new revival of historical thinking regarding warfare could potentially change the scope of military teaching. The “new” field of teaching, as it is somewhat older in some terms, is “promising to save military history from itself by moving the field beyond narrow battlefield analysis in order to concentrate on the interface between war and society. The social composition of armies and officer corps, civil-military relations, the impact of war on race, class, and gender (and vice versa) – these were the questions that excited this school.”(Citino 1071) Citino’s argument goes further as to say that the impact 0f the history of warfare is not limited by battlefield schematics, but the effect on a whole nation by specific demographics. The view of military history in the academic world is not yet clear, but an approach not solely devoted to casualties and maps could be a solution to the increasingly limited outreach of military history in today’s academic society.
The standards of professional history are derived from the academic setting of the research of a specific topic and through the throuough vetting of historical sources. Professional texts are usually defined by the sources of information and the language used throughout the text. Consistent use of primary source documents or sources, providing contextual organization, and utilization of scholarly word choice/argumentation are all factors that identify scholarly works. Popular history, often found through websites or quick-access reading, lacks the professional validity of academic writing and tends to have a superficial argument, existing to educate non-specialized audience. Secondary sources are the main component of popular history, with most existing as the culmination of various secondary source works. The main difference between the two levels of professionalism in the two types of historical reporting tends to be the level of research (primary vs. secondary) and the argumentation involved. By utilizing more primary sources and increasing research in a certain field of history, scholarly sources tend to have more validity that popular history. When doing research of your own, the scholarly fields are likely more accurate, which makes the standards of historical writing important. While not discrediting popular sources like mainstream websites, the vetting of professional studies solidifies their nature as the best sources to use when completing historical research.