Academics

Dr. Ron Bobroff leads workshop on investigating “old fields”

Dr. Ronald Bobroff

Associate Professor of History Dr. Ron Bobroff, along with two other experts from around the country, will be leading a two-day workshop at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center on effectively utilizing libraries and archives while investigating “old fields.”

“New Fields for Old: The Revitalization of Political, Diplomatic and Military History and its Implications for Research in Libraries and Archives,” will be held June 9-10 in Champaign, Illinois.

“Old fields” of investigation include political, diplomatic and military history, and once stood at the root of the historical profession but have given way to social, cultural, and gender studies in recent years. Bobroff and his colleagues, however, sat these “old-fashioned” approaches have been reinvigorated by a new generation of scholars applying cutting-edge methodology from new fields and other disciplines to these traditional subjects of investigation, especially in Russian, East European and Eurasian area studies.

Libraries and archives are also changing: digitization is making access to some materials easier than ever, while undigitized materials appear to drop from many students’ agendas (“if it’s not on the Web, it doesn’t exist”). The promise of universal digitization is still often stymied by the rigidity of the library’s online catalog format. Researchers have difficulty teasing the information they need from catalogs and finding aids structured and compiled according to standards set by librarians and archivists.

The workshop will address how the developing professional language of archivists, including acronyms like EAD and MPLP, affects the researcher, as well as how best to structure a research visit to get the most out of any repository, both at your home institution and in the target countries.

New Fields for Old: The Revitalization of Political, Diplomatic and Military History and its Implications for Research in Libraries and Archives

Facilitators: Ronald Bobroff (Professor of History, Oglethorpe University), Anatol Shmelev (Robert Conquest Curator for Russia and Eurasia, Hoover Institution), Annabella Irvine (Research Specialist, Slavic Reference Service, University of Illinois) By the end of the twentieth century, fields of investigation that once stood at the root of the historical profession – political, diplomatic and military history – had come to be considered old-fashioned and their practitioners, who once formed the core of any history department, gave way to social, cultural, gender historians, almost to the point of extinction.

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