The need of specialization has the drawback of limiting the scope of one’s work. As I’ve stumbled through the study of history, this has often been a frustration; the academic study of history is quite focussed. This is needed to gain the expertise one needs in historical writing, but as Richard Fletcher says in preface to his The Barbarian Conversion “Professional historians today are expected to know more and more about less and less.”
So when I got to UCSB, I joyfully inserted myself into their “Christian Traditions” track and am now doing exam readings on the history of Christianity and in so doing I’m finding myself in increasingly unfamiliar territory: from Reformation, to medieval, to early Christianity. So I ask myself several questions: is there a way to balance depth and breadth? and how do the specialists feel about “outsiders” treading on their territory (me writing about early Christianity or vice versa)?