Contemporary History masters students, thinking about the equilibrium to be found between theory and archives, and hesitant in the drawing of conclusions from your material, read this and comment in 500 words:
A scientist and his wife are out for a drive in the country.
The wife says: “Oh, look! Those sheep have been shorn.”
“Yes”, says the scientist. “On this side.”
Ka-dzing! Got it? Proof and generalization? How to use theoretical insights?
I lifted this from Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein’s Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar, Understanding Philosophy through Jokes (Penguin, 2007). Always the lazy soul, I would say this is easily the funniest and cleverest book I have read this year. The above piece is just a little example of what one could use in basic “What is scientific historical research?” classes.
This one is unrelated to any of my teaching. It is just plain funny:
A New York boy is being led through the swamps of Louisiana by his cousin. “Is it true that an alligator won’t attack you if you carry a flashlight?” asks the city boy
His cousin replies: “Depends on how fast you carry the flashlight.”