Grafton and the Footnote

In his article, Anthony Grafton takes an in depth look at the footnote and its roll in historical writing; or rather, its reluctant roll. Grafton claims that while the footnote is constantly being forced out of the spotlight of writing, thrown into the back of the books, it can often be the most important part of historical literature. One way of showing this was to look at the footnote’s roll around the world and throughout time.  Footnotes both in the academic and professional spheres of historical writing are often seen as annoying, time consuming and in many ways unimportant.  After all, the only real reason footnotes are needed is to prove that your information and research is sound and to prove that you aren’t simply plagiarizing the work of other writers.  Grafton, however, is able to shed light on the importance of the footnote and its usefulness in writing in a way that is interesting to read.  As a history major myself, I find it interesting to see a writer who defends the use of the footnote in terms other than that you need them to show that you aren’t copying some else’s work.

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