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Historical Thinking: An Addition

June 9, 2014

After pondering my conversations with (medical) students over the past six months, I’ve decided that the memorable mnemonic of “The 9 Cs” has to be updated. Because I’m constantly emphasizing the notion of competing narratives with my students this seemed a natural addition:
Competition: The notion of competing narratives is essential to historical thinking. It is especially related to complexity and conjecture. Narratives compete for our attention most obviously in politics and in family memories. But the principle is also at work in reading and constructing histories generally. The “winning” narrative usually displays the best integrated and plausible storytelling, for people are fond of comprehensiveness in their histories (even while generalists understand the importance of narrowed and specialized historical inquiry). That said, no one story can ever integrate everything. And changing one or two elements (citations/sources) can change the perception and slant of a historical narrative. As such, a good historical thinker always knows that other legitimate narratives exist.

So it’s now “The 10 Cs.” I’ll update that entry with a new post. – TL


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