History Done by Non-historians

These articles bring up some good points on how to think about history done from non-historians.  Where do we draw the line on scholarly authority?  Are sound resources the key in the debate?  I feel like I change my mind on that subject weekly and do not ever have a concrete opinion on the matter.

With reenacting, I appreciate that on any one battlefield you can have casual enthusiasts who are just there to have fun mixed in with the hard-cores who are particularly proud of their authenticity and dedication.  As brought up in “The Limited (and Queer?) Vision of American Historical Reenacting”, much of this reenacting is done by older, white men romanticizing the past.  It makes me wonder how many men don their reenactor roles to “escape” into a hyper-masculine world against a changing society that may seem “threatening” to them.  I’m sure many are passionate about history, but to some maybe only in a way that maintains white patriarchy.  The few articles referencing reenacting made me think of the book that some of us read last semester titled Confederates in the Attic, which addressed the undying nature of the “War of Northern Aggression” to Southerners.  To many, reenacting connected them to their heritage and a simpler, better time.  The Civil War refuses to die because the war is still so personal.  This book was published in 1998, so I’m wondering if between 1998 and 2012, perhaps the Civil War mania began to lessen as “Why Doesn’t Anyone Think It’s Cool to Dress up like a Confederate Soldier Anymore?” suggests with dwindling attendance at Sons of Confederate Veterans events.

Another side note on “The Limited (and Queer?) Vision of American Historical Reenacting”, a remark was made that maybe in the future we will see women and minorities reenact struggles and confrontations in the future.  This comment reminded me of people who had dressed up to participate in the Women’s March in January.  Particularly, I thought of a few women I saw dressed up at Victorian Suffragettes.  I do not know if those women would consider themselves reenactors, but I thought it was a step in the direction that the articles was talking about, and an example of connecting yourself to history to prove a point.

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Regarding Wikipedia, all of the information was new to me, feeding into the statistic that women are not as active contributing as men.  Since I have never tried to edit an article, I did not know the content and source guidelines.  It does make me feel better about getting quick facts and an overview since there are guidelines in place to deter internet trolls, but I can understand Messer-Kruse’s frustrations.  Being an expert in your field and then told that you do not have the right kind of sources to edit a Wikipedia article would drive anyone crazy.

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