I am looking for a term used to describe how much in detail one is studying a historic event.

For instance, if one studies a college course called "History of the World" in one semester, one gets just surface knowledge of a given event, e.g. the Bolshevik revolution might be described but not in much detail.

On the other hand, if one takes a course called "History of the Bolshevik Revolution" one if going to study much more detail about it.

Furthermore, if one does a PhD, one could pick one tiny aspect of that.

The word "depth" is close, but I am wondering if their is a more scholarly term for this used within history. In other words, one can use "depth" in science to mean how detailed one studies a area of science, but because history is a continuum and is measurable by time, so that actual depth can be studied on a scale, I think the concept of "depth" is special to this study so there might be a unique term applied for use in historical studies.

  • One could speak with a visual metaphor of being closer or farther from the details - microscope versus telescope -- or one could use a physical model, speaking of the granularity of the details -- large-scale versus nitty-gritty. Like everything else, it depends on what metaphor you choose. – John Lawler Oct 7 '20 at 21:51
  • Your own term “detail” works well here. – Lawrence Mar 7 at 4:57

I don't know of a single term for this concept, other than depth, and certainly nothing unique to the study of history.

But you might try adjectives like introductory and cursory, or nouns like primer and overview and survey, at one end of the scale; and adjectives like detailed and thorough, or nouns like examination and investigation, at the other end.

As illustrated in your question (and the first comment), physical metaphor provides a reasonable menu of descriptions: surface vs depth, close vs distant, coarse- vs fine-grained.

More generally in scholarly circles, depth is reasonably conveyed by the narrowness of the words used to describe a topic of study. Compare:

"Russian History"

"History of the Bolshevik Revolution"

"Electoral law under the second Duma as precursor to the Coup of 1907"

I realize this is not what you are looking for, but in my own academic career I do not recall encountering such a singular term.

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