Historical Ethics

These six articles serve as a ’round table’ discussion of the problem of ethics in the field of history, and were actually fairly unnerving to read while working on my final paper, much in the way that reading about horrific car accidents can be unnerving to read while learning to drive. Nonetheless, they serve as a useful snapshot of ethical problems and solutions in the profession (albeit in 2004).

Each approached the problem from a different way, but each definitely hammered n that plagarism is, in fact, a problem. Some disagreed as to its source– in his essay, Gorn blames the marketization of history as a profession– but all agreed that it was a problem. Unfortunately, it’s often a subtle and difficult problem to find, and Michael Grossberg found it difficult to offer a solution better than “I’ll know it when I see it,” which doesn’t sit well on my shoulders.

Honestly, my favorite solution was that offered by Fox. If students feel comfortable doing original research by themselves, they may not feel the need to plagarize as pressingly. I know I could have done with some guidance in the nature of research a lot earlier than I got it; I still often feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing. I worry if that’s what even professional historians feel when they sit down with a stack of eight books about the Civil War and wonder if what they’re doing really counts.

The Lost Museum

The Lost Museum was an interesting, if somewhat aging, exercise in learning via the Internet. Though I could wax poetic about the graphics and engine that date back to the earlier part of the last decade– I’m fairly certain I played a game very similar to this in middle school– I was actually rather impressed with the documents that were linked into the game, such as the slave contract. They made the experience, for me, giving what was otherwise mildly cheesy an atmosphere of historic authenticity. That’s what interactive games and the like are best at, I find: they create immersion, helping the player to feel present and creating a sense of place that is often otherwise absent.