Edgy and Pushing the Envelop – What Influenced Eley?

Iggers, Foucault, now Eley, what? I mean, I am really getting bogged down with all of the dense readings. I find myself agreeing with Kate in wondering “why” are we reading this, then I begin to realize that this is part of learning to be an historian. We need to read about the thought process and how others are studying and writing about history. This is all part of the methodology and the way we need to be flexible in our own writing styles; not getting “stuck in a rut” or a routine way of researching and writing ourselves. I do feel that sometimes these writers can have a much more powerful  meaning by writing LESS or writing in a more “down to earth” style. Why does it seem that to be considered scholarly and academic, that one has to be so aloof,ostentatious, or pretentious in their writing style. (You see I can use the Thesaurus button on my computer too. Kind of reminds me of Riley in National Treasure , “Snorkel, Albuquerque…”I feel that it may have more meaning if they would just write it so that more people could connect with the writing. I found Eley to be like Iggers and Foucault in a way, and therefore it was hard for me to sink my teeth into.

Wow, as for Steedman, what a story! I was really shocked to read about how her mother felt at times, or at least how appeared to feel at different points in her life. I had a myriad of feelings come flooding back to me in regards to the readings, as some of the situations seemed very familiar.

Steedman wrote a very engrossing story, one which could draw the reader in, however, I found myself shaking my head asking why was I reading about her childhood?  Then I realized that this was an example of using a personal narrative, her autobiography and the story of her mother to tell of the experiences in a working class society from one person’s perspective. I find this to be a little dangerous, as even though it was probably a true to life accounting with the possibility of some embellishment, it was still one person’s point of view. This brought to mind the case of the “cat massacre” and it may cause people to want to find more sources to back a personal story, which could possibly be problematic.

However, for the purpose for which it is written (as a glimpse into social history, gender, work, ethics, places, and a specific time in history), it does provide a great window into the past, which people can look through to see a picture of this bygone era.

I also found it very interesting that Eley talked about how he found Steedman to be “edgy” yet he seemed to like the fact that she pushed the envelop. That showed respect and the fact the he said that he was influenced by her caused me to want to read Steedman with a different eye.

I still found it hard to pinpoint her argument as opposed to a good bit of personal narrative which led to an overall good story about her childhood and her relationship to her family…Again, I look forward to our discussions in class on Tuesday.

2 thoughts on “Edgy and Pushing the Envelop – What Influenced Eley?”

  1. Thanks for sticking with the readings even if they do “push the envelope” of your expectations! So many good questions in this post about the validity and objectives of Steedman’s work. If part of the issue of “translation” is the experiential distance we have from Steedman’s childhood, how you would answer the questions you raise vis-a-vis a work of autobiography or memoir closer to your own field of study?

  2. “I feel that it may have more meaning if they would just write it so that more people could connect with the writing. I found Eley to be like Iggers and Foucault in a way, and therefore it was hard for me to sink my teeth into.”
    Agreed. And as you’ve already noted, I’m having a hard time getting my head around not only why we are reading these, but also struggling just the material itself. I’m glad someone else is in the same boat — and sticking it out too!

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