I can see the use of Twitter as a way to get a quick answer to the question “Who is ‘the historian of late-medieval Coventry’ whom Keith Wrightson quotes directly on p. 56 of Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain? Direct quote. No notes. Yale UP, and no notes. Just a sort of bibliographic essay about the major sources for each chapter. This is not what I would call a popular book. Maybe if I were an early-modern economic historian, a name would come immediately to mind. But sometimes people whose expertise lies elsewhere need to get some information about another field.

Here endeth today’s rant.

11 thoughts on “And, that said . . .

    1. p.s. Given that’s a 2002 book, it certainly doesn’t have the right to lack of citation that say, “nasty, brutish, and short” might. Even for scholars directly in the field. In fact, Pythian-Adams himself might not recognize it as a direct quote.

      1. My guess is that Wrightson wrote out the quote in his notes but forgot to put the bibliographic information, meaning to come back later (perhaps not having twitter himself?) but forgot, and the copy editor didn’t catch it.

  1. Thank you! And yes, one could do that sort of thing, and it’s very kind of you to do it for me instead of telling me to use Google myself, but I am annoyed that it is necessary to do that. It’s not a one-time error. The whole book is like that. Sometimes he gives an author’s name, but never a page number. Plus there’s no separate alphabetized bibliography, and I find it’s very easy to miss things when reading through the little bibliographic essays, whereas I can skim a well-laid-out bibliography quickly and usually pick out the good stuff right away.

    1. I will say this perverse lack of citation encourages me to focus on concepts rather than quotation, which is useful in some ways, but it really angers me when it seems like I might have a pointer to another useful source if I could just figure out what said source is.

      1. Sounds like a bad copy-editor combined with a guy who is used to having someone else do the details work. Did you know that a lot of these older gentlemen are used to the editor doing all the bibliography/citation stuff? At least according to a woman we know who has worked in that copy-editing position– anecdotal evidence. (Women, she’s told us, are much better about doing their own citations.)

        I need the source in order to judge how good the evidence is for myself. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there– I went to an amazing (cliometrics) talk recently that basically line-by-line tore apart the first chapter of a book that came out recently for misusing and misquoting other books/statistics/using incorrect out-dated data that has since been corrected in order to support the author’s agenda. A real lesson in how not to trust something just because it’s been published by a reputable press.

      2. I’m still face-palming. “In the absence of footnotes, I cannot record the source of every piece of information included in the text, or every idea that has influenced my arguments. I have usually named those historians whose opinions and interpretative judgements I have quoted directly. Many more whose work I have found particularly helpful are listed in Further Reading and can be identified there.” p. xi.


        If he were writing for one of my classes, his ass would be so failed.

        Why would Yale UP let him get away with this? Cripes, hire a grad student to track down references if you’re too lazy to do your own work.

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