Historically Thinking is a podcast about historical knowledge and how we achieve it. Each conversation explores an aspect of the most fundamental historical question that I think there is: “what’s the real story (or stories) here, and how can I know it?” It so happens–and this is no accident–that this is also one of the most essential human questions.
Scores of podcasts examine historical events, facts, and personalities. Lots of historians don’t particularly care for these, sometimes for good reason. A few podcasts feature conversations with historians about their work at the cutting edge of a specific aspect of the historical discipline. These are intriguing, but following them requires a significant knowledge of context and methodological preparation.
Historically Thinking aims to bridge this gap between casual recitation of historical information and academic history. We hope to be interesting, perhaps even useful, to curious people—curating lively, engaging conversations while unpacking aspects of the historical craft. For example, in a conversation about the Battle of Waterloo, Gareth Glover didn’t just recount the details of the battle but shared with the historical tools he used as an amateur historian of the Napoleonic Wars to discover and interpret a trove of hitherto-unused eyewitness accounts of one of the most chronicled days in European history.
In Historically Thinking conversations, my guests and I explore the history of history as well—tracing the development of its disciplines and sub-disciplines, and touching on those historians who have had both a beneficial (and sometimes baleful) influence upon their craft. In short, this is a podcast that strives to be the audio analog of the best kind of historical writing done today, that is based on sound scholarship yet reaches out beyond a circle of specialists. Our ideal listener is a professional who might have majored in history in college, who reads “academic trade” books as often as she can, is allergic to intellectual jargon, and is looking for something thoughtful and interesting to listen to on her commute to the law office.
Beneath our discussions lie a set of assumptions about historical thinking—hence the name of the podcast. We believe that just as people can think scientifically, they can also think historically. We believe that when people think historically, they are engaging in a disciplined way of thinking about the world and its past. We believe that historical thinking enables those who employ it to solve difficult problems that resist analysis. We believe it gives thinkers a knack for recognizing nonsense; and that it cultivates not only intellectual curiosity and rigor, but also intellectual humility.
In addition to our “one-off” conversations, we also have an ongoing set of series on Historically Thinking.
- The Histories of History
- Historians and Their Histories
- Higher Education: A User’s Guide
- The Importance of Place
Listen to episodes at historicallythinking.org; or download us from the iTunes store.