How to create a hypothesis for a historical research

Jan 2018
28
......
#1
Hello there,
When writing a dissertation or a thesis about history, students and researchers are asked to state a problem and a hypothesis for that problem. My question is how to state a problem and a hypothesis for a historical event where we all know that history never changes and that it is restricted to already given facts?
Supposing that someone is writing a thesis about the Battle of Waterloo ...All the info about the Battle of Waterloo are the same everywhere, what can this researcher add?? Nothing actually, he/she is going to end up summarizing a dozen of books about it without bringing anything new to the topic (not because he/she cannot but because it's history).
What kind of problem statement that one can write about a Battle, a king, a conflict, ...
I mean how can someone see problems in history and give hypotheses for them??
Please illustrate if you can.
Thnx in advance!
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,641
Dispargum
#2
This is one reason why recent history has drifted away from the really big issues in history and has focussed on increasingly narrow and specialized topics. In your Battle of Waterloo example, it might be possible to write a paper or even a book about the experiences of a single regiment or brigade or a single middle ranking officer. If half a dozen men in the same regiment or brigade kept diaries or wrote other accounts of the battle, it might be possible to synthesize these different points of view to present the battle from the point of view of one spot on the battlefield or of just one unit. Much of the battle they were probably not engaged and passed the time digging trenches or other preparations. Then after they were engaged they performed recovery procedures: counting the dead and wounded, replenshing their ammo, etc.

Another trend in history is to reinterpret it through the eyes of the current generation. Biographies of Alexander the Great written by Victorian authors never mention his alleged homosexuality. Those authors just didn't consider that to be important. Modern biographers, in my opinion, spend far too much time exploring whether Alexander was gay or not. But that is what the current generation of history students is interested in. The civil rights aspect of the American Civil War was not a popular subject prior to the 1950s. But as the civil rights movement began to grow in the US, there was a growing tendency to view the Civil War through the prism of slavery and civil rights. So what aspect of the Battle of Waterloo would appeal to young readers that never occurred to previous authors or researchers?
 
Jan 2018
28
......
#3
This is one reason why recent history has drifted away from the really big issues in history and has focussed on increasingly narrow and specialized topics. In your Battle of Waterloo example, it might be possible to write a paper or even a book about the experiences of a single regiment or brigade or a single middle ranking officer. If half a dozen men in the same regiment or brigade kept diaries or wrote other accounts of the battle, it might be possible to synthesize these different points of view to present the battle from the point of view of one spot on the battlefield or of just one unit. Much of the battle they were probably not engaged and passed the time digging trenches or other preparations. Then after they were engaged they performed recovery procedures: counting the dead and wounded, replenshing their ammo, etc.

Another trend in history is to reinterpret it through the eyes of the current generation. Biographies of Alexander the Great written by Victorian authors never mention his alleged homosexuality. Those authors just didn't consider that to be important. Modern biographers, in my opinion, spend far too much time exploring whether Alexander was gay or not. But that is what the current generation of history students is interested in. The civil rights aspect of the American Civil War was not a popular subject prior to the 1950s. But as the civil rights movement began to grow in the US, there was a growing tendency to view the Civil War through the prism of slavery and civil rights. So what aspect of the Battle of Waterloo would appeal to young readers that never occurred to previous authors or researchers?
I can't thank u enough!
 
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