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LIS 950: Libraries and community

The purpose of this seminar is to explore an important topic in library and information studies in depth — in all its intertwined historical, cultural, philosophical, and political aspects — through a graduate reading/discussion seminar. The topic varies each time the course is taught; this time around, we will focus on "libraries and community"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Some thoughts on Hays

I also found Hays' idea of change and continuity very insightful and intriguing although I am not familiar with the state of historical research. He also points out many useful directions and perspectives for scholars to do historical studies. However, I feel that something is missed in his article. It would even more interesting if he could have pointed out the best ways to combine the studies on the "given moments" with the changing and continuing course of history because such studies provide rich resources for studying the changes and continuity over time, and only when we understand the "given moments" can we analyze the differences between the "given moments", namely, changes.

Another thing is about the "breakpoints" and "periodizing". If I understand him correctly, he suggests that a breakpoint for a certain phenomenon does not necessarily a good one for others. So how one periodize the history should depend on one's subject, perspective and emphasis. Is that correct? He suggests we redefine the periods of history to emphasize the change and continuity, and the first step is to study a "given phenomenon". I am thinking, even in one single discipline, in a given period of time, we have so many options as to the topics or phenomena. Depending on one's perspective, one can choose whichever phenomenon as the starting point to redefine the periods and find out a set of breakpoints in that particular phenomenon. Wouldn’t it be confusing sometimes? If we all use different sets of breakpoints and periodize the history in different ways, how can we get the general and holistic picture of the history? Or did I somewhat misunderstand his suggestion?

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