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The Historian's Many Hats

By John Arnold
A choice of context

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Reading history - an active experience 
So to conclude the tale in question here. Unfortunately, we don't know anything more about John Hogsflesh, although I have briefly presented certain contexts that might explain the meaning of his actions.

In doing this, I have adopted certain roles as a historian - not least, that I chose to present the story of John Hogsflesh (rather than, say, that of Henry VIII) to you in the first place. Which suggests to me that there is another question here about roles, the role adopted by the reader or audience of history.

Is the audience best served by passively accepting everything that historians say or write? Or might the reader also want to ask questions, think of arguments - and wonder about what roles the historian adopted in producing his or her 'history'?

About the author

Dr John H. Arnold iteaches medieval history at Birkbeck College. He is author of History: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000) and Belief and Unbelief in Medieval Europe (Hodder Arnold, 2005).

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Published: 2005-01-28



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