I woke up yesterday morning and saw this tweet in my Twitter feed. It’s times like these that I am reassured that Civil War blogging is making some sort of a difference.
Last summer, at a conference in Gettysburg, an attendee addressed a panel including myself, Kevin Levin, and Brooks Simpson, and asked if Civil War blogging was entertainment or the serious business of teaching history.
My response was (and always will be) that the two should not be separate strategies. Well, I do not think he was happy with my answer (hoping I would side with the latter). I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I intentionally attempt to draw people to Cosmic America with humor, entertainment, silly anecdotes or whatever I can think of. But that does no mean that I ignore historical issues, original research, and analysis. Some of the things I discuss are controversial and can stir emotions – but there is always room for levity.
I believe that historical inquiry is undergoing a paradigmatic shift of sorts. One component of that shift is the instantaneous transmission of thoughts and ideas – all the trappings of a carefully considered historical problem thought through to viable conclusions…and done in short spurts via social media. Like it or not, much of this is happening in a colloquial – perhaps even entertaining – format. History is going viral, my friends. Who knows…we may even have fun with it.
So thanks, Rebecca. I am certainly pleased that you and others like you have found a way to enjoy the study of history. And I am glad I could help.