The State of the History Discipline (and where have the good history blogs gone?)

A new report has historians in a tizzy. The history discipline has lost more undergraduate majors than any other discipline in the country.

Meanwhile, over at the History News Network half of the lead articles  (1, 2, 3, and 4) and almost every blog  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 )  is about Trump and modern politics.

One the “history” blogs  (1) there consists of nothing but cartoons of Trump.

Historians can do better. We can think about other things to write about than Donald Trump. We can find ways to make our research interesting or relevant without appealing to its sometimes tenuous connections with modern politics.

One thing that is missing, as far as I know, is a good aggregator website for historical research.  History, unlike say economics or philosophy, is a book field, so it is no surprise that there are some good websites out there featuring reviews of new history books. The New Books Network, for example, has a category for history booksKirkus reviews history books too. Reviews in History is better yet, since it features longer reviews and even asks for author responses.

But what history doesn’t have is a place where we can highlight and share new research that is published in article form. Science and archaeology news websites abound, and they often link their news articles to the new published research, or at least give us the title of a new report. I like the simple, 1990s format of for this.

Our colleagues in economics and law, for example, have much better personal websites, and many of these serve to disseminate new research. I’m thinking here about such sites as Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution, Bradley Hansen’s blog,  and Larry Solum’s Legal Theory Blog, just a few examples of the many professional blogs in those fields that attract large numbers of readers.

I used to joke that historians don’t blog. When I say this, I am sure to upset some public historians who work in the digital humanities space. I fear that they are the exception, however.  I’d like to know where the good history bloggers have gone? Not the cutesy blogs about the K-12 history classroom, not the blogs about WWII battles, and not the conspiracy history blogs. All of these exist in large numbers. I want to know where the serious, professional history blogs are. There are plenty of self-promotion websites, but few with active blogposts, it seems. Where are the leaders in the field who take a public role in dissemination historical knowledge of their peers and their juniors?




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