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1 Uses of history

1 Uses of history

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1 Uses of history

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  1. 1 Uses of history

  2. based on The Methods and Skills of History by ConalFuray and Michael Salevouris

  3. Uses of History • use of history in rapidly changing world? • many organic connections remain • legacies/burdens of past still with us • b/c of changes = need of history increases • w/o historical perspective • danger of mistakenly believing problems/solutions unprecedented • no relation to past

  4. Uses of History • all we do, all we think, all we are = cumulative result of past experiences • future = abstraction • present = fleeting moment • past and judgments about past = inescapable

  5. Uses of History • catastrophic to try to escape history • imagine life w/no memory • society’s identity = product of countless individuals, forces, events • history = study of the past • society’s collective memory • w/o history = society rootless, adrift • most important reason for studying history • “A country without a memory is a country of madmen.”

  6. What is History? • 2 meanings: • history = sum total of everything that has happened • history = account of the past • only contact with history (1) is from records left • concerned with “history as creation of human intelligence” (Fungal) • “History … is the act of selecting, analyzing, and writing about the past. It is something that is done, that is constructed….” (Davidson and Lytle)

  7. Nature of History • history = past and study of past • history as past is irretrievable • knowledge of “past-as-it-actually-happened” based on surviving records • historians’ accounts provide “useful and accurate” glimpses of past • historian presents and individual version of segment of past

  8. Nature of History • all historical accounts have an element of subjectivity • writing history is an act of creation (re-creation) • any piece of history = treated as individual creation • respected if calls forth in reader clear image or understanding of some past • history (2) = product of history and people who actually lived events

  9. Process of History • process of history = makes clear subjective, re-creative nature of history • historians study surviving records • most events left no record • historians’ are capable of error, subject to biases (personal, political, religious, etc.) which can influence interpretation of history (1) Only a part of what was observed in the past was remembered by those who observed it; only a part of what was remembered was recorded; only a part of what was recorded has survived; only a part of what survived has come to the historians’ attention; only a part of what has come to their attention is credible; only a part of what is credible has been grasped; and only a part of what has been grasped can be expounded or narrated by the historian. – Louis Gottschalk

  10. Process of History • historian can never get full truth about given past

  11. Question of Truth • historical truth? • historical accounts = subjective, incomplete? • knowledge is fleeting, shallow? • subjectivity and truth not incompatible • all knowledge is conditioned by cultural circumstances and personal temperament • must be alert to influence of “subjectivity” when you study history

  12. Question of Truth • historical truth? • past did happen • documents provide link to history (1) • develop skills, habits of mind, critical methods

  13. Exercises