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Author Topic: Ronald Hutton?  (Read 1222 times)

Cabal

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Ronald Hutton?
« on: December 11, 2013, 05:06:16 pm »
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.
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Re: Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2013, 05:30:27 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;132296
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.

 Of course there's no author anyone will agree with all the time, but I generally like his books and acknowledge him as sort of an innovator as far being an historian approaching the pagan stream academically. His "The Triumph of the Moon" is on our coven's required reading lists for seekers.

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Re: Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2013, 05:36:25 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;132296
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.

In general, quite good. I find his books interesting and well-researched.
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Re: Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2013, 05:41:56 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;132296
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.

 
He's done what are by far the most useful and readable academic studies of paganism/pagan revivalism in Britain: he's required reading for any serious study of the topic (on either an amateur or a professional level). From my perspective as a folklorist, he's also absolutely invaluable for his commitment to intellectual history: you absolutely cannot understand the history of modern paganism without understanding the overarching theoretical assumptions about history, folklore, and anthropology from the 19th-20th centuries. He's a historian, so the way he uses documents and understands/articulates ideas of evidence are subtly different from the way I as a folklorist do, and most of my critiques of his works aren't so much "this is WRONG" as "the material you have here doesn't have to be interpreted the way you've done so, and could also be done in X way"--but that's, like the basis of responding to scholarship, especially in a cross-disciplinary way, so. I always recommend him to everyone with even a passing interest in the topic, and I've taught his stuff in my classes. So yes, highly recommended. :)

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Re: Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2013, 06:36:41 pm »
Quote from: catja6;132302
He's done what are by far the most useful and readable academic studies of paganism/pagan revivalism in Britain: he's required reading for any serious study of the topic (on either an amateur or a professional level). From my perspective as a folklorist, he's also absolutely invaluable for his commitment to intellectual history: you absolutely cannot understand the history of modern paganism without understanding the overarching theoretical assumptions about history, folklore, and anthropology from the 19th-20th centuries. He's a historian, so the way he uses documents and understands/articulates ideas of evidence are subtly different from the way I as a folklorist do, and most of my critiques of his works aren't so much "this is WRONG" as "the material you have here doesn't have to be interpreted the way you've done so, and could also be done in X way"--but that's, like the basis of responding to scholarship, especially in a cross-disciplinary way, so. I always recommend him to everyone with even a passing interest in the topic, and I've taught his stuff in my classes. So yes, highly recommended. :)
Thanks for all your input! I haven't read anything from him yet but I really wanted to, and thought I would get the yay or nay on him as an author. I will definitely be getting some of his books from with the conscious that he is a good author and researchers his books thoroughly.
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Re: Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2013, 06:55:14 pm »
Quote from: catja6;132302
He's a historian, so the way he uses documents and understands/articulates ideas of evidence are subtly different from the way I as a folklorist do, and most of my critiques of his works aren't so much "this is WRONG" as "the material you have here doesn't have to be interpreted the way you've done so, and could also be done in X way"--but that's, like the basis of responding to scholarship, especially in a cross-disciplinary way, so. I always recommend him to everyone with even a passing interest in the topic, and I've taught his stuff in my classes. So yes, highly recommended. :)

 
Catja said much of what I'd say - and I also highly recommend his work.

The other thing I think I'd say is that I think Hutton gets a lot of criticism for, well, being an academic - which is to say, he tries really hard not to argue more than he's got actual demonstrated evidence for, and he does it within the context of his field.

Which means I often read him, and come away looking at his sources thinking he might not have gone far enough with an analysis, but recognising that it's because he's doing the academically ethical and responsible thing, and that's a *good* thing. It's just not what many people in the Pagan community are used to reading.

(And in particular, doing research about recent history - where some of the people are alive and some of them are very recently dead, and so on, is rather different than doing ancient history, or even Victorian era stuff, say.)

I do definitely think there are other people worth reading (f'ex, if you're interested in the history of Wicca, I think it's also worth reading Philip Heselton, and probably also Chas Clifton's _Her Hidden Children_, because they all do somewhat different things with some of the same basic evidence. But that's how academic discourse is supposed to work. Someone has to start somewhere (and on a bunch of topics, Hutton is that someone) and then other people come along and poke at it, or bring up different evidence, or whatever, and more discussion and understanding happens.
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Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 03:18:10 am »
Quote from: Cryfder;132296
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.

I love his books. As Jenett said, he does the academically responsible thing with historical evidence. He says: here is some evidence; here are three (or whatever) possible ways to interpret it; here are some of the ways those interpretations affect what we're looking at; here is the most likely conclusion.

My only criticism of him is a criticism I have with many academics: I don't think he always admits his own biases. Everyone, including academics, has a paradigm within which they work. Historians are basically social scientists, who are among the most strongly biased academics, simply because of the material we're looking at and how our social perspectives (which we all have) can affect that. Some social scientists have adopted the idea of 'strong objectivity', in which we critique the concept of academic objectivity itself, and start with our biases.

In Hutton's case, I feel like he leans towards a constant conclusion of "we can't ever prove anything about ancient religions or their influence on modern Paganisms", when other historians wouldn't draw quite that extreme a denial from the same historical evidence. That's his bias, for whatever reason (I wouldn't presume to try to comment on why). As a result, some Pagans who've read him, who don't always understand that even historians have bias and variation in their interpretations, think his position is gospel.

But this is a minor criticism. I think his work is wonderful. No one else is doing such large-scale studies of the links between ancient pagan religions and modern Pagan movements.
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Ronald Hutton?
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2013, 10:23:24 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;132296
What views do you have regarding him when it comes to his books on Paganism.

I have Triumph of the Moon but haven't started it yet.
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