Reading is such a vital part of what historians do, so much so that I decided to produce and post a video about it. Now reading is fundamental. I can easily and readily see how a freshman in college could take offense. The problem is not so much reading, but in remembering what it is you just read.  

Ani DiFranco wrote a song about this (“Little Plastic Castle” from the same self-titled album, 1998):

In a coffee shop in a city

Which is every coffe shop in every city

On a day which is every day

I picked up a magazine

Which is every magazine

Read a story, and then forgot it right away.

This is what I am talking about: remembering what one reads (or not remembering, as the case may be). We’ve all been there. We read an assignment just before class knowing that there will be a quiz. We walk into the classroom with confidence. We walk out cursing like sailors. Answers to quiz questions seemed elusive even though we just read the blasted assigned readings. Argh.

Thus, this introductory video that I and my daughter whipped up. The ending needs more, but I believe it accomplishes what I set out to do: give students an overview of how historians approach reading. And since I am always looking to improve my craft, I do invite you to leave constructive criticisms in the comments section below. All the best blog followers!

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