History as an Academic Discipline

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

History, as an academic discipline, seeks to understand the past through a study of recorded accounts, documents, and artifacts. Explore an overview of the academic discipline of history, including the division between history and pre-history. Updated: 01/22/2022

History as an Academic Discipline

Everyone has a past and a story to tell about what has been. Likewise, every segment of this world, be it a city, a country, or a civilization, has a past and a history as well. But that history is not the same thing as the past. In fact, what is history? How is it different from pre-history and the past? We explore these concepts in this lesson.

When we talk about history as an academic discipline, we are talking about the branch of knowledge that deals with the interpretation of the past, especially by experts in history.

These are people who research, study, and then expound upon their findings of the past. More broadly speaking, history can be thought of as the study of the past by everyone from professors and researchers to amateur scholars to the public at large. You can become, if you methodically study the past, a historian as well.

As an academic discipline, history and thus historical studies have one key element to them. There is, no matter the research, a level of interpretation to the study of past events. This means that the study of a single past event can take on different meanings when construed by historians coming at the event from various angles and possible biases.

Such historians can study everything from people to events to time periods to civilizations and much more. They can even study specific subsections of the past, like the economics of a civilization, the relationship between two people, or the political landscape in a time period. There is no limit to what can be studied and researched.

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History, Pre-History, & the Past

History should be carefully delineated from pre-history. Pre-history refers to a time before written records arose. You may have heard of the term, ''historical records.'' This term is used because history is something that is recorded. It could be in writing, but nowadays it could be recorded in audio and video as well.

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