The Ongoing Civil War: New Versions of Old Stories

By Herman Hattaway; Ethan S. Rafuse | Go to book overview

The Professional Historian
and “Popular History”

Mark Grimsley

Those who know me will doubtless be shocked to learn that I was once the proud owner of a massive and quite unbridled ego. As an undergraduate at Ohio State University, I slipped furtively from class to class as solemn as a monk, and outwardly quite as meek, but inwardly certain that my formidable gifts made it unnecessary to concern myself with such trivia as regular course attendance and cumulative GPAs. In this delusion I was abetted by a few professors who thought me fairly bright, smiled indulgently at my dissolute study habits, and sometimes permitted me to attend functions normally reserved for grad students and faculty. At one such function—a cocktail reception—I was accosted by a graduate student, a miserable species which, as any good undergraduate would, I cordially despised. But unlike most grad students, who exhaled an air of intellectual superiority, this one introduced himself deferentially, as if he understood that my prodigious intellect completely eclipsed his own. After a bit he remarked that he had heard I had already been published and that he was very impressed, given the fact that I was then only twenty years old. My ego, no shrinking violet in any case, swelled to something approaching the dimensions of the room in which we found ourselves, but feigning humility I told him the article in question had been published merely in a magazine of popular history. Inwardly I smiled; merely in a magazine of popular history!

-13-

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