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Thinking About History

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  20 reviews
What distinguishes history as a discipline from other fields of study? That's the animating question of Sarah Maza’s Thinking About History, a general introduction to the field of history that revels in its eclecticism and highlights the inherent tensions and controversies that shape it.

Designed for the classroom, Thinking About History is organized around big questions:
Paperback, 264 pages
Published September 18th 2017 by University of Chicago Press
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May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic, non-fiction
I wish I had had this book when I started grad school. Most of what is in here I knew, having worked in the field for well over a decade now. I did find gems that I will sprinkle into my own teaching. This would be a great reader for an advanced undergrad history seminar or a first year grad student seminar to introduce majors themes and topics in the field.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this as part of a class on historical research methods and found it very enlightening about historical scholarship. The book introduces many approaches to history and their contexts in an effort to get readers to really think about the questions history should be asking. I found the narrative to be engaging and not overly academic in tone. I'm glad that I read it and now have more of a sense of the overall trends and questions that historical scholarship has and will continue to cover.
Saumitra Thakur
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read. I read it as a lay person after seeing a friend recommend it on social media. Maza introduces historiography (what it is, the relevant recent debates) in a way that’s relevant for both lay people and for people in the field. In the process, she summarizes several major debates in history and helped me contextualize other work I’d read. She brings attention to assumptions we can easily take for granted, and discovering new assumptions I’d carried made the book unexpectedly fu ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good overview of the discipline of history - what it is exactly, major trends in the field, important works. Maza gives a nod to popular historians (as opposed to academic ones) but by and large the work is mainly about the academy.
Stephanie Kaczkiewicz
There’s no doubt that it’s well researched and firmly grounded. There’s also no doubt that the more I read, the more I began to despise historians.

Her sections on popular literature, archives, museums, and heritage projects are particularly egregious. Condescending language about the auxiliary members of the field has no place in a discipline whose current discourse is all about equity, diversity, and social justice. But, par for the course, really. Historians like to envision themselves as her
Melody Schwarting
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thinking About History is a really helpful look at the broad discipline that is history, covering current and historical issues in the theory of history. For new historians like myself, it's a wonderful introduction to many types of history--social, cultural, micro-, public, et c. Reading Maza's book helped me define myself as a women's historian focusing on socio-cultural and religious history. My interest is almost exclusively women; religious topics fascinate me far more than non-religious to ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
What a fun but also thought provoking book into history as an academic discipline (mostly) and a "thing" (more broadly). I'm not a historian, but I appreciated how Maza charted the course of historians' approaches to to their work. I learned a lot and also enjoyed mapping on what's here to disciplines and fields I'm more familiar with. I have little doubt other academics would feel the same way. And for the "layperson" who has interests in history, there's also a lot to get from this monograph. ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting tour de force of the history of history

I found the book to be erudite and provided plenty to think about. In my case, I wanted to be able to best help teach students to think as closely as possible like historians, and this book was very useful in illuminating how vague my original aim was. Historians as a term and profession has varied over time and this book neatly outlines the varying positions.

I did find it a bit hard going at times: the prose can be relentless at times, but i
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had to read this for a historical research class in graduate school. This book gives a great overview of viewing history from an historian's point of view and how history is written. It is easy and engaging to read and gives a plethora of examples of other books on history. Because of this book, I have added at least twenty new books to my Amazon wish list.
Matthew Rohn
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging and accessible book about what history is, why we do it, and helpful background on the trajectory of many subfields. Probably recommended for people who aren't formal historians but generally interested in the subject as a discipline rather than just a repository of fun facts
Pearse Anderson
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Damn this was a good historiography read! I learned so much about the different types of histories, the history of history books, and the seminal works in the field. Also a great insight into cool books/thinkers to look into later. Probably the best thing this semester.
Janice Liedl
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fresh and clear: I'm going to be recommending this to our history majors, especially seniors and grad students. Can't think of a better survey of the discipline, bolstered by clear examples of scholarship.
Carol Tilley
Misplaced my copy. What I've read is excellent and I look forward to finishing it.
Colin J.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good academic read. Maza provides plenty of examples to illustrate each of her points. These are interesting and help with the flow of the book. Stretching read for undergraduate students.
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read for uni subject.
Grace Moore
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
A very insightful and easy to read look into historical methodologies.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Look for my review in JAH.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Very thought-provoking and stimulating. (also I kept thinking "I love this discipline" as I read)
Katherine McCauley
This is a hugely helpful and unusually engaging introduction to historiography and I’m glad I read it. I trust Sarah Maza with everything I have. Thank you for my life
Maria Piovesana
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Aug 26, 2019
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