In this post for the H-CivWar Author's Blog, Lois Leveen seeks input on how to balance a desire for accuracy in our scholarship with the inevitable unknowability of the much of the past.


At a plenary session of the 2021 Society of Civil War Historians conference, Poet Laureate and acclaimed memoirist Natasha Trethewey asked Nina Silber and David Blight to reflect on the pleasures of doubt in their (and all of our) scholarly work. Trethewey's query resounded like a cross between a Final Jeopardy question and an especially challenging round of Stump the Band.


Nina Silber replied that doubt

August 2020 Handgrenade--What's in a Noun?

John Kuehn Blog Post

What's in a Noun?

John T. Kuehn

Just a quick one folks:  Let us look at a typical sentence written in professional military education these days (PME):

"General George Patton was a maginficent Soldier.  His Troops performed magnificently during World War II and brought great Honor on themselves, our Nation, and for the gratitude of their Families."

Aside from other possible grammatical errors and the triumphal style,  how many unnecessary formal nouns?  

I count five:  soldier, troops, honor, nation, and families.  And that is just the beginning...and only two sentences.

This sort of usage litters

Challenging our ways of thinking about parades

Tiff Graham Blog Post

heart I’m an academic who dutifully researches the literature and conducts fieldwork by reading, talking, listening, taking notes, photographing, and audio-video recording; yet when I write this “Parade Talk” blog, I channel a creative flow, widely uninhibited. I keep in mind that my friends, family, and many festive event attendees probably have no interests in reading about parades, but I can throw in a futuristic spin or a humorous interpretation to entice them to linger beyond the photographs. For my academic buds, intrigued by ephemeral culture on display like me, I write knowing you have read

Guest Post: Creating a "Writing Bootcamp"

Kent Peacock Blog Post

Summer is a great time to get work done, especially writing if you have no other teaching or course requirements. But how can you make sure you get work done and manage your time effectively? One method is a "writing bootcamp" and guest blogger Danielle Blalock Barefoot writes about what one is and her experience with one. Read her blog post at her website at

Many thanks to Danielle for sharing this idea and her thoughts on it. Do you have other time management or writing methods to make sure you get your

Reading More about Writing

Carlotta Falzone Robinson Blog Post

Last summer, Kerrie Holloway wrote a very useful Resource Blog for H-GRAD,  “Reading about Writing.”  Since a few of my favorite books were absent, my blog offers several additions to her suggested reading list. Writing a dissertation is a long process, and along the way it can be useful to stop and review some of the advice that’s out there on effective work habits, efficient writing/reading/researching and navigating personal obstacles. There are hundreds of “help” guides for writing your dissertation, but the books I’ve selected for this list are ones I feel are most helpful for the “in

“This is a book for finding your way” (4).

By Kara Hisatake, Sarah Papazoglakis, Katie Trostel, and Tsering Wangmo


Eric Hayot Picture.jpg

In the spring of 2015, several graduate students in the Literature Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz got together to address the topic of academic writing. Each of us wanted a space in which to improve our writing at the level of style and structure, but many of us felt that our institution and department lacked the resources with which to address the technical side of academic writing. While we had composed many end-of-the-quarter papers before advancing to

Reading about Writing

Kerrie Holloway Blog Post

Usually, the best way to write is just to write, but sometimes it's good to read what others say about the writing process to help you improve your writing or motivate you to begin writing. The following books have been recommended by fellow H-Grad subscribers as books that have helped them develop their writing throughout graduate school (now with handy Amazon links for more information!).

First, Brook Brassard recommends The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White; The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb and Joseph M. Williams and On Writing by Stephen King