Nature of History Essay

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¶ … difficult, and not totally secure, why do we do it? Why does history matter?" Provide your own answer to Arnold's questions: "why do we do history? Why does history matter?" Please provide an introduction and conclusion to your essay. Use specific examples to support your answer and draw on discussions from the entire course.

Exploring and knowing about the past is a basic need of humans. Every one wants to know about their roots. Humans wanted to know about the initiation of life on earth and how humans developed and progressed with the passage of time. Thus studying history is a learning process in such that we come to know about how men handled different situations and how we can avoid the mistakes they made in their life.

Besides whether a historical event has been truly described or not it is interesting to know about our ancestors, their views about life and living and their customs and traditions. The history and historical topics are so famous among general public that many successful movies have been produced on historical events; Titanic is one example. People are always curious to know about the historical events in particular to facts related to their ancestors

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History does matter because it is the tool through which one can explore about their grass roots. History is in particular helpful for the knowledge of a nation's past and how it developed. The professional historians and writers have been continuously claiming that history is the base for the welfare of individuals and societies (Hundey, 2003). Commacchio (1998) describes that when an individual studies the history this satisfies many psychological needs of that person. These include the concept that the person studying history of the nation is a part of and continuum to that generation having particular characteristics that are identity of the nation.

Essay on Nature of History Assignment

In addition to satisfying curiosity history is helpful to understand and cope with present day situations for young generations who feel themselves trapped in the demands of the present. Historians who explore history also have interest and passion in knowing the unknown. Their emotions encourage them to explore history and describe historical events to others. John Dewey (1916) said that the initiation point of history is always a situation or problem in present (Glassford, 2003).

Further there is an emotional attachment with the past. Every one studying historical literature experiences emotions and memories. Emotions and history have been a most researched phenomenon. Knowledge of past is an emotional need too.

2. Part II

Question 1-Refer to the oral histories in the Oncourse Resource section, Readings, for October 11, 2011. Analyze one of the oral histories. Be sure to include the topic that is discussed, the strengths and weaknesses of the source, and what information is unique to this oral history (that is, historical information or insights which cannot be acquired by other sources). Discuss how you would use secondary sources to supplement the information in the oral history.

Throughout the oral history literature, narrative oral history and oral history for publication are often used to describe the same format of oral history. These projects are constructed from oral history interview transcripts and are arranged into a narrative that reflects the literary aspects of story (i.e., beginning, middle, end; coherent plotline) to engage the reader. These oral histories are aimed at an audience that is, usually, neither experienced in reading oral history transcripts, nor familiar with the complexities involved with completing an oral history project. Narrative oral history and oral history for publication are created from interviews where a dialogue between the interviewee and the oral historian is allowed to develop within the framework of the interview questions.

Narrator and interviewee

Narrator and interviewee are often used similarly in oral history literature to describe the person who is giving the oral history. While these terms are used synonymously, interviewee is the term traditionally used in oral history as well as the term used by the Oral History Association in its evaluation guidelines. Narrator was adopted to remind the oral historian of the power dynamics within the interviewer-interviewee relationship that can influence the oral history project (Ritchie, 2003)

Although interviewee and narrator are used interchangeably within oral history, they are theoretically different in the field of rhetoric. Therefore, I have chosen to separate these two roles. In this discussion, interviewee represents the person from whom the history is taken, and narrator represents the character who is telling the history within the narrative (Chatman, 1978). In the case of a first person narrative oral history, these may seem like synonymous roles, but the narrator is a character co-construction by the interviewee and the oral historian.

Oral historian and editor

The oral historian is the person who initiates the project, decides or helps decide the purpose of the project, constructs the interview questions, procures the interviewees, arranges and records the interview, audits the transcript, and makes historical interpretations about the transcript. Even in group projects where the project initiation and purpose may be decided upon by someone else or the group, the oral histories are recorded by an individual oral historian

On the other hand, the editor organizes the interview transcript into themes and creates a cohesive and engaging narrative in collaboration with the oral historian and the interviewee. In the majority of oral history projects, the role of the editor is often carried out by the oral historian because most projects lack the financial ability to support hiring an editor.

The use of oral sources as a means of research dates back to the fifth century BCE when Herodotus used eye witness accounts to document the history of the Persian Wars. Two generations later, Thucydides used oral histories to chronicle the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Likewise, court scribes recorded local histories for court historians during China's Zhou dynasty, and in the 16th century, punish conquerors relied on local oral sources to reconstruct Aztec and Incan history to use as a tool to convert and colonize these indigenous peoples. Oral sources continued to be an important source of historical information well into the 19th century (Ritchie, 2003; Sharpless, 2006). Despite the long and established use of oral sources as a valid research tool, oral history began to fall out of academic favor in the latter half of the 19th century when historical scholarship shifted paradigms, moving from a primarily literary discipline to a scientific one. Consequently, oral sources were eschewed for objective documents created at the time of the event. The common consensus was that documents created at the time of the event could withstand the rigors of empirical study, but that oral sources were too subjective and vulnerable to time and memory to endure the same type of examination (Ritchie, 2003). Resituating historical scholarship within the positivistic construct created a perception of increased rigor and seriousness, but the effects of this move were costly because significant aspects of historical events were lost. During this time, historians turned towards a fact-finding mission and divorced themselves from the examination of cultural and societal influences on events. This approach created a two dimensional view of history, "so lovingly cared for that it [was] is almost inhumanly comfortable, purged of social suffering, cruelty, and conflict…free from interference, and in return stir[s] no challenge to the social system" (Thompson, 2004).

Recognizing this gap in historical scholarship, other disciplines and professions began accepting oral interviews as credible sources of historical events. Field journalists began using oral interviews during the Civil War as sources for their articles, and when Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, published his interview with Brigham Young, the trend in journalism of accepting interviews as credible sources gained popularity. In 1868, when President Andrew Johnson requested an interview during his impeachment crisis in order to give his side of the story, interviewing was permanently grafted into the journalistic cannon (Ritchie, 2003).

In brief, creating oral histories for publication is overlooked as a discussion point in the oral history literature. This silence can be overwhelming for the inexperienced oral historian/editor because no guidelines exist for how much one can change the interview.

Question 2

Historians often use statistics to quantify issues in the past. Consider the status of women in the twentieth century by using the measures of education, work outside of the home, number of children the average woman has, and age of marriage. What are the general trends concerning the status of women throughout the twentieth century? Were the trends during the decade of 1950-1960 typical or unusual? What further information would be useful to analyze the status of women during the twentieth century? The demographic information in the PowerPoint slides for November 8 will help you answer this question.

The twentieth century is considered as the rise of women. The status of women during this era changed a lot in society overall and individually. It was the middle of 19th century that the women started realizing their rights and role in society.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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