June 11, 2005

Writing an answer for History Subject

In order to give a specific answer to a question that how a good answer can be written in a subject of history Indian Universities, I would prefer following order of the lay out of the answer.

The first Paragraph of the Answer

The first paragraph of any answer should refer to the sources of writing history for the period about which the question is asked.

The Contents of an Answer

It is generalized that in history the questions are basically about who, where, when and how. The issue of ‘why’ is also there but its is always among academicians and scholars that ‘why’ is emphasized.

Secondly ‘why’ aspect takes you to the sphere of ‘Philosophy of History’ which claims a different type of intellectual sphere.

In the field of history courses as taught at university level or in competition examination, the stress is always on who, where, when and how.

The ‘where’ and ‘when’ aspect are the vital cores of history discipline. In pure history terminology, it refers to ‘space’ and ‘time’. The ‘space’ and ‘time’ are two important functions in historic pursuit. The space refers to place, geographical area and the milieu. The ‘time’ refers to chronology. Hence, in simpler terms, it is time in past and the place which are the subject matter of history.

The other aspects of history are ‘who’ and ‘how’. The question ‘who’ may refer to a person or a group of persons after you have defined the time period and place at which those person or a person had lived.

The ‘how’ factor is a very wider term in history and also belongs to philosophy of history. You may find there is no fixed and well defined definition of history. It is not because history fails to get defined. The confusion is all about the methodology and conceptual framework that are adopted by different scholars who while studying their sources, time period and place prefer to adopt. No doubt, it is cause of bias in history interpretation also but it again may take us to different discussion of methodology and issue subjectivity and objectivity in history. It is also about ‘causation’ and ‘effect’. On the whole, this is an aspect which is again meant only for expert historians. For a general pursuer of the subject, he has to depend upon the findings of expert historians in order to explain ‘how’. This aspect also explain the need of giving quotations of the authorities in order to present a version of a period and place. It is also while playing on this aspect, that sometime students say that you can afford to say or write bluff also. But it is not all that easy.

It is the same aspect which sometimes prompt students to say that you have to write long answers in history. It is also not true. The answers become long when some topic brings out counter perception because of the working of ‘inductive’ and deductive logic’ which is carried out simultaneously while undertaking the process of interpretation in history. The best examples are two questions which an historian can ask about the cause of world war second. The historian would try to analyze by asking that the world war would have never happened had there been no Hitler. Before deducing, he would also ask that could the world war take place, had there been no Hitler. Hence, this conflict between varied version brings out the significance and influence of one historic event or fact on your present life. No doubt, that on the completion of sixty years, this questions had again became the center of heating debate in Europe. Anyhow, it is a long discussion. In conclusion to this paragraph, it can be said that answers are mainly about ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’.

On the basis of above discussion, a student should try to imbibe, absorb and understand what actually he is going to prepare, gather and write about or what knowledge he is going to get. In simple terms, he ahs to learn and write about a person or persons at one particular place on earth at a particular period of time. In order to repeat the same thing in different words, a student has to write about social, economic, political and cultural (which include religion also) aspects of a person, or a group of persons (biographical if about a person or a nation or a set of institutions in case of a particular group of persons for example Sikh history) at a given place and a fixed period of time.

If you are able to absorb above elaboration, then you may get confidence on how to go about your subject matter. On that basis, you can easily discern that you have to either talk about some social or political or economic or cultural (religious, art, literature) aspects. In order to become more confident, you should have some understanding on the lines that what it is, when you say that you are talking about social or political or economic aspects. In order to give a very simple definitions on the above aspects, the following elaboration can be discussed.

When we talk about ‘social aspect’ then we have to learn and discern that what the people did while interacting with each other from day to day basis. What was the basis of cohesion and unity among them or other way round? On day to day basis, you live in a family; you eat; you interact while visiting friends and relatives and similar type of things.

When it is political aspect, then you study the struggle for power. Here you talk about wars, administration, theories and practices (doctrines) adopted by different political centres.

When you talk about economic aspects, you study about creation and distribution of wealth. Here you talk about agriculture, trade, industry, revenue collection, taxation etc.

When you talk about cultural aspects, this aspect being very subtle, and all pervading, you talk about religion, art, literature, thought process etc.

Try to understand the real verve and meaning of above elaboration.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact Form


Email *

Message *