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historygeek

Which languages should I focus the most on?

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@historygeek Coming out of my undergrad, I was in a somewhat similar boat to you. I knew I wanted to study history at the graduate level but struggled to really understand what it was that I wanted to research. I talked about this with one of my professors about this and the advise I got was to take something outside of history that I was passionate about (in my case it was watches), combine that with my interest in history, and see what came out the other end. I had no idea that there was anything to the history of watches and timekeeping, but as I dove into the existing literature I was able to find the answers to the questions that all of us have been asking about why you have the specific interests that you do. I know this approach doesn't work for everyone, and you may find that in following this advice you'll discover that your interests have no relation to your passions outside of history, but as someone who was in the same spot you were at one time, I think it's worth a shot.

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Okay, I went through and thought about everything in this thread, all of which I'm very appreciative for. My apologies for being short and frankly rude earlier; my mental health hasn't been in the best spot, obviously.

My concentration for my MA is definitely going to be European history, and I'm going to be taken a course on Medieval history (the focus is going to be largely social and cultural, including intersections of race/ethnicity, gender, and global encounters in Medieval England, France, and Iberia) in addition to my required Theory and Methods course. Since I want to apply to a PhD program again after getting my Masters, I will likely take @WhaleshipEssex's advice and produce research during the spring/summer while reading more, though I plan on continuing reading through next fall, obviously! I may take the research project from the Medieval history course and refine it. I'm temporally most interested in the High to Late Medieval period, into the Renaissance, in urban areas of England and north and central Italy. I'm going to use the rest of this semester and the summer to really come up with questions that I'm interested in, since I'm sure my current questions of what was life really like and are the preconceived notions that we have about the Medieval period really correct are a bit too broad. ;)

Regarding language, I'll be taking an intensive Latin course over the summer (as well as referring to the Latin course by the National Archives of the UK, which is specifically Medieval Latin) and will also be working on French and German. 

 

 

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Just wanted to give everyone an update. I'm going to be taking Latin and German this fall (though I'm already working on both) and have been teaching myself French. 

I've been reading more independently, and have started to figure out what the heck I want to focus on. Geographically, Italy is my primary interest, with lesser interest in England, Bohemia, and the Balkan Peninsula. In terms of time, the High to Late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance/early modern period. Approach-wise, I want to explore visual and material culture, archeology, and anthropology, as well as social and cultural history. (I'll have the approaches more nailed down after my Theory & Methods course this fall).

In terms of actual topics, the big question I have is "how did the presence and prevalence of disease shape medieval and early modern culture and society?" I'm still figuring out if I want to focus more on the medicinal or cultural aspects. I'm specifically interested in the way that disease shaped religious belief and practice, the cultural and social implication of disease on female bodies, the spread of ideas about disease, how disease affected daily life, and how ideas of diseases caused (or didn't cause) scapegoating of other religions or foreigners, especially in the borderlands. 

Thanks for your help, everyone!

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1 hour ago, historygeek said:

Just wanted to give everyone an update. I'm going to be taking Latin and German this fall (though I'm already working on both) and have been teaching myself French. 

I've been reading more independently, and have started to figure out what the heck I want to focus on. Geographically, Italy is my primary interest, with lesser interest in England, Bohemia, and the Balkan Peninsula. In terms of time, the High to Late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance/early modern period. Approach-wise, I want to explore visual and material culture, archeology, and anthropology, as well as social and cultural history. (I'll have the approaches more nailed down after my Theory & Methods course this fall).

In terms of actual topics, the big question I have is "how did the presence and prevalence of disease shape medieval and early modern culture and society?" I'm still figuring out if I want to focus more on the medicinal or cultural aspects. I'm specifically interested in the way that disease shaped religious belief and practice, the cultural and social implication of disease on female bodies, the spread of ideas about disease, how disease affected daily life, and how ideas of diseases caused (or didn't cause) scapegoating of other religions or foreigners, especially in the borderlands. 

Thanks for your help, everyone!

If you sustain this interest in disease, I hope you have the chance to take medical sociology/anthropology of medicine courses. These classes were much more helpful for my thinking about disease and medicine issues than my history of medicine courses. The contemporary focus may seem remote, but many sociologists and anthropologists are very interested in plural conceptions of disease and the body, so it might be more useful than you would assume.

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20 hours ago, historygeek said:

Just wanted to give everyone an update. I'm going to be taking Latin and German this fall (though I'm already working on both) and have been teaching myself French. 

I've been reading more independently, and have started to figure out what the heck I want to focus on. Geographically, Italy is my primary interest, with lesser interest in England, Bohemia, and the Balkan Peninsula. In terms of time, the High to Late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance/early modern period. Approach-wise, I want to explore visual and material culture, archeology, and anthropology, as well as social and cultural history. (I'll have the approaches more nailed down after my Theory & Methods course this fall).

In terms of actual topics, the big question I have is "how did the presence and prevalence of disease shape medieval and early modern culture and society?" I'm still figuring out if I want to focus more on the medicinal or cultural aspects. I'm specifically interested in the way that disease shaped religious belief and practice, the cultural and social implication of disease on female bodies, the spread of ideas about disease, how disease affected daily life, and how ideas of diseases caused (or didn't cause) scapegoating of other religions or foreigners, especially in the borderlands. 

Thanks for your help, everyone!

Don't overwhelm yourself with languages.  Stay focused on your Latin until you can read the primary sources more comfortably with some dictionary help. Unless you're really one of those super talented linguists, trying to learn multiple new languages and keeping them straight is difficult enough as it is for the brain.  Once you have Latin down, French will come more easily so put away your French materials.

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If you want to read the original documentation, then you should take up the Latin.

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