Historical Methods in Mass Communication

By James D. Startt; William David Sloan | Go to book overview

8
Writing

To say that the narrative element is important to history is like observing that numbers are important to arithmetic. The beginning researcher, however, needs to contemplate the meaning of that statement in its fullness. While it is true that any advice on historical writing is bound to displease some practitioners of the craft, the topic cannot be avoided. In the following discussion, we shall concentrate on those general elements that are most germane to historical writing.


The Historical Narrative

The object of historical research is communication that normally takes the form of a composition. It may be a book-length composition or one of shorter variety. For most beginning researchers, it will be a seminar paper. When should writing begin? It would be misleading to suggest that it occurs only at the end of a research project. To the contrary, it should begin as early as possible, not only because it is an incentive to precise and serious thought about the subject but also because it is the surest means for discovering gaps and deadends in the material collected. The final composition must be a polished version. Aside from incorporating all pertinent evidence and the previously discussed elements of historical thinking, it also must manifest the qualities that characterize the historical narrative. Composition is perhaps the most difficult task involved in historical inquiry -- and the most satisfying.

History, as we have seen, differs from the social sciences,

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Historical Methods in Mass Communication
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Nature of History 1
  • 2 - Interpretation in History 19
  • 3 - The Fundamentals of 'Good' History 41
  • 4 - Basic Procedures and Techniques 65
  • 5 - Searching for Historical Materials 81
  • 6 - Historical Sources and Their Evaluation 113
  • 7 - Explanation in History 141
  • 8 - Writing 157
  • 9 - Presentation and Publication 171
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index of Subjects 195
  • Index of Names 205
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