The Lyco Lowdown: An Insider's View of Life at Lycoming

5 Things Historians Do

Posted by Ali Preston on Feb 18, 2017 2:00:00 PM
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History at Lycoming College

Historians seem like a fairly normal bunch of people, most of the time. However, there are some strange things that we do that some people outside the field question:

Engage in impromptu battles

When we’re not researching, historians are just giant children. Especially if they focus on wars. Weapons are cool, old weapons are cooler. Especially swords. Especially when you have a yard stick and your nearest history buddy also has a yard stick. The only thing better than yardsticks is taking an entire class outside in the snow and letting them pelt each other with snowballs. Dramatic deaths get more points.

Medieval History

Give long, drawn out explanations

There’s a lot to history and a lot to discuss. Everyone interprets things differently, especially when texts aren’t clear. However, since there’s so much to go over, historians take their time explaining. And explaining. And explaining. And then getting distracted suddenly by the next point.

Get distracted by multiple side notes and stories

There’s a lot going on in a historian’s mind and sometimes focusing on event or time period is difficult. Some historians spend thousands of pages explaining how the political, cultural, and social elements of the past affect just the historical economy. In-between, there are anecdotes that go a bit too far from the point or words that remind us of off-topic stories.

Tell plenty of weird stories of strange things that happened in history

Historians know some weird stuff. For example, did you know that the Victorians named their children things like Raspberry Lemon, Toilet (literally), and Freezer Breezer? These aren’t normal things you find in a text book because they’re not really important. They’re amusing and hilarious but not that important to the entire narrative of the period. We discover these things searching for other information and just have fun with them -- how could you not?

Argue over historical headcanons

History is a difficult subject, which sounds surprising because all you need to do is memorize dates and events, right? Well, yes but that’s the most basic part. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of those giant, boring textbooks you barely remember from high school. There is evidence of what happened in the past, writings, firsthand accounts, histories, and archeological finds that provide us knowledge about history, but how truthful are those things? Archeological findings do not come with an explanation, so you have to infer how the pieces of one pot got scattered across miles or why a bunch of organic waste was dumped into one hole. Ancient historians and writers are nearly always biased. The past is told by the victors. We know next to nothing about the “barbarians” that “destroyed” the Roman Empire other than what Roman’s wrote about them, and those sources can’t be trusted because the Roman’s had a horribly low opinion about their neighbors. I use quotations because historians constantly argue about if Rome “fell” or “declined” or just simply changed with the times. History is just a bunch of very smart people arguing over their interpretation of what we know.

We historians are some weird people. History might seem boring and by extension, historians seem like boring people, especially when they’re reading their papers and research word for word. However, we have to amuse ourselves somehow. Although a lecture might seem boring, history at Lycoming College is definitely more interesting than one would think because of the oddities we create stay entertained. Sound like you? Check us out!

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