“I continually preached what seemed to me the three essentials to high-quality scholarship: frequent travel to the original works of art (‘Don’t stop looking at your monument’); intense use of detailed photographs of the original works of art under review (‘Prop these up about you on your desk as you write’); and patience (sitzfleiß) in libraries and archives (‘Remember that the documentary support for your work will always be like an iceberg; only a little of it may show but its depth should be enormous’).”

Ilene H. Forsyth, “Historian of Art (1928–),” Women Medievalists and the Academy, ed. Jane Chance (Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 2005), 848.

Check-in will be up later today.


4 thoughts on “Friday’s inspiration

  1. These sound like good practices to me (at least from the parallels I can draw between art history and historically-informed approaches to literature), but it also sounds like the kind of passage that’s usually followed by a “but,” and a revelation that she was doing it all (or somewhat) wrong. Did she have some sort of epiphany about how it really should be done?

  2. This is very interesting.

    I would say that in the early stages of a scholarly career, it is absolutely essential to do as suggested and immerse oneself as deep as possible in the content of one’s field. This is because in order to make novel contributions, one needs to learn the language and existing conceptual structures of the field.

    But as one progresses, too much immersion in the details of existing datasets and conceptual structures and what other workers in the field are doing can be confining. In order to strike out in bold new directions, sometimes a little ignorance is necessary.

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