My exam didn't go that well on the history of general history.
I had to put a quote from Richard Evans' book In defense of History into context. I thought that scientific history just meant the history of science, but the professor saw it in an Isiah Berlin kind of way. Not as in the history of the scientific method. Also she wanted to know why Evans defended the post-modern view on primary sources. But he didn't, really. Quite the opposite. The post-modernists don't think there is such a thing as a primary source. I was wondering if we really were talking about the same book here. So I was very much confused.
Also she asked me what historical context was. So I started off on a ramble, which, I thought was a pretty solid explanation about what it is, how scolars need recreate it to handle and interpret their sources correctly etc.
Which was apparently not the answer she was looking for. I had to use meta-theoretical stuff.
Professor: 'Don't you remember the 8th lecture I gave. I did an entire lecture on Context.'
Me: 'Yes, but I'm sorry, I really can't help you with the answer.'
Professor: 'I talked about a football match. Ring any bells?'
Me: 'Yes, I remember there being a picture of Zinedine Zidane giving a headbutt in the power point. But I'm not quite sure how it fits in with the question.'
Right. I looked it up while I was waiting for my train home. It had to fit in with the agency (the action of the football player) in a structure (a football game).
I think I'll have to retake the exam after summer. It was quite tedious to study. I know what to read if I have a sleepless night. It puts my lights out under five minutes. Just like Mouser next to Ludmilla Jordanova's History in Practice.