This is doing my head in

5 07 2008

This history personal study is more trouble than it’s worth.  I’ve now discovered I can’t do 18th century gangsters due to the lack of historical debate on the subject.  Grrr.

Perhaps I should explain.  This is the only part of the course where we get to actually choose what we learn about.  I wanted to use this opportunity to look at a period of history I haven’t studied in detail before.  Last year, before I dropped history, I wanted to answer on the Mughal Empire, but was stumped by the lack of available sources.  This year I decided to set my sights nearer home, but look at a specific subject I haven’t studied before.  Unfortunately, and in defiance of all logic, just about every area which has attracted the required level of historical debate is one I’ve already been tested on.  The French Revolution, the Battle of Hastings, the Spanish Armada, World War I, World War II, the Tudors, the American West…

To make matters more complicated, we have to have our questions submitted for approval by the exam board by next Thursday.  There really isn’t time for me to select a new topic, booklist and all.  In desperation, I emailed a friend asking for her bibliography from when she studied the Spanish Armada earlier this year.  The school librarian says that’s the cheating coward’s way out, and has suggested I do Samuel Pepys instead.

Well, my friend emailed me back with the bibliography.  She is a lifesaver and a star and I would propose to her if I didn’t know she’d turn me down.  So I’m doing the Armada.

And in all honesty, part of what made the 18th century interesting was that it was the time  of Jack Sheppard and Johnathan Wild, of thief-takers, mohocks and highwaymen.  Somehow, a man who was famous for keeping a diary doesn’t sound as… exciting, I suppose.  If I picked a new topic at this stage I’d have to do a lot of research and book hunting at very short notice, and fascinating as Pepys’ diary doubtless is, it just doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

So now I’m stuck writing about the Spanish bleeding Armada for yet another bleeding year.

Oh well.

And yes, I’m using this blog to vent, sorry.  This history has been a real pain in the neck, and it’s doing my head in.


In totally unrelated news, I’ve just seen the final episode of this series of Doctor Who.  It’s a special, and it is incredibly long and incredibly epic.

Farewell, Russell T. Davies.  You will be missed.




5 responses

6 07 2008
Will Rhodes

ack of historical debate on the subject.

Are they serious??

6 07 2008

Yeah, just the fact that you could come up with a book list for that topic should demonstrate there is more than enough debate. Look at the founding of New Orleans: it’s all bloody pirates and crooks, right up until…well, ongoing!

6 07 2008

Thanks for the comments.

I think the problem was that my area of study was too specific: it was specifically about 18th century gangs and organised crime in the Greater London area. None of the items on my booklist was written by an actual historian; it mainly consisted of contemporary accounts and reports from the Old Bailey. I expect I could have come up with a better booklist and proven them wrong if I’d only been given more time. But never mind.

7 07 2008

Are you SURE she would turn you down? She sounds like a keeper. 🙂 As you’re so creative, I’ll just bet you come up with a new take on the ol’ Armada, or at least be able to follow a unique thread!

7 07 2008

Absolutely sure.

Thank you for the compliment! 🙂 I’m thinking of looking at the role of the English in the Spanish Armada’s defeat, which is quite a different perspective from that of my friend’s question. I’ve only got until Thursday to get on top of this question though, so I’d better get a move on!

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