Monday, October 5, 2015

Is there anything quite so joyous... finding a gaping hole in the scholarship on a topic you are working on?

Seriously: I'm working on, say, the Great Pox Outbreak of 1402. And there's a huge literature on the topic of late medieval pox in general. The GPO happens to fall smack in the middle of the five-year-long War of the Three Henrys. Massive historiography there, too, in three different languages (one for each of the places contributing a Henry to the war).

And yet, somehow, none of these historians really makes much of a connection. Or, if they do, they mention it in a two-sentence aside. As I see it, these things are connected in a number of ways. Yet Pox scholars don't read most of the things on the War, and Henrico-bellists only mention the pox outbreak when it kills one of the major generals.

This, for me, is great.

As is the fact that both Poxers and Henricans (all three languages of them!) have meticulous footnotes.

Thank you, one and all.


Contingent Cassandra said...

There are probably a few other things, but not many, at least not for a scholar who hopes/plans to publish.

And getting students to realize that "there isn't anything written on my topic" is a reason to choose that topic rather than to reject it (especially when there are several well-developed parallel/related strains of research on which to draw) is a major step in the direction of helping them understand what scholars mean by "research."

EarthSciProf said...

Nice! That's always a terrific feeling. Is timing an important issue (I'm in the sciences and so only have a vague idea about publishing in history/lit)? Will you end up pushing for an article to get your ideas out there and then expand in a book?

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

So lovely! Chase it!!

Susan said...

Oh, and good footnotes to boot! Hallelujah!

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

It's like sticking your finger in your nose and getting a huge juicy booger that just comes out nice and easy.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

EarthSciProf -- I'm thinking right now about getting the chapter finished. What happens to it we'll soon see.

Comrade PP: Thanks a lot for ruining my morning coffee. You suck without style.

undine said...

The academic sweet spot!