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Gordon DesBrisay, History Faculty

Essays

Why do we write essays in History?

I guess for me, for writing History, one of the messages I like to get across is that essays are really at the heart of what History, or Historians, do. As an aside, I was shocked when I arrived in Scotland for Grad School and the Undergraduates, and I'd been one three months earlier, were walking around calling themselves Historians, and I thought it was awfully presumptuous. But I now think they were right. If you do History, you're an Historian. Our students do History, but I think we can get lost some times in these discussions without maybe going back to real basics, like 'Why do this? Why do we want to participate in this discussion?' As a Historian I believe in the importance of connecting with the past as a way of understanding our world. But I also think that Atudents need to understand give them access not only to knowledge about the past but to understanding, and that that kind of understanding and the kind of skills involved in acquiring it are transferable, so that anywhere you go, if you're ever...Hopefully you will have a job where somebody will require your opinion on something and you'll need to try to persuade them Ahat you know what you're talking or semi-formal way, preferably in writing. That's what we do. I think that that's one of the things that I like to try to get across: that this is Aelevant to your ongoing development a person, and that it's fascinating and vital to connect with the dead.