Alternative historical media.

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#1
History is primarily known through the written word, books articles, etcetera, and, to some degree, by films, television and similar media.But could there not be a lot of other ways, to get more history? Shakespeare and others have written historical drama, though perhaps we may ask how accurate (but then also how accurate was "usual" historical books of his days?) Could learning by drama and acting be a way? Or what about games, by board, computers or "roleplay"? where has it been tried? Cartoons, animations? Or even more "odd" ways? If it is done anywhere what are the "results"?
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,156
Albuquerque, NM
#2
So far as I know, the best way to study and "know" history is the old fashioned way. Read widely and dive deeply into the subject. Study, and here "study" means more than passively reading/absorbing the material, and spend some time thinking and pursuing "outside" materials that might be relevant to the teeny, tiny bit of history you are researching.
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#3
Ok. On the other hand I asked for alternative ways not least because I thought perhaps it could be a way of reaching out to More People. It is long since I have been seriously studying any "tiny teeny bit". The reason is not least a lack of patience
 
Oct 2013
12,352
Europix
#4
Ok. On the other hand I asked for alternative ways not least because I thought perhaps it could be a way of reaching out to More People. ...
And that's causing a double trouble: even with the best and noble intentions, alternative ways' main goal isn't history, but something else. History is only a vector, and it's, by definition in this case, a personal interpretation of history. That isn't a bad thing, as long as we understand that it isn't studying history . I said "double trouble" because it's a way of reaching out to More People, and that's often a way in mass-reinforcing stereotypes, falsities or inexactitudes.


Have You seen the famous Oscar nominated movie "Krakatoa, East of Java?" :)
 

Fantasus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2012
2,381
Northern part of European lowland
#5
And that's causing a double trouble: even with the best and noble intentions, alternative ways' main goal isn't history, but something else. History is only a vector, and it's, by definition in this case, a personal interpretation of history. That isn't a bad thing, as long as we understand that it isn't studying history . I said "double trouble" because it's a way of reaching out to More People, and that's often a way in mass-reinforcing stereotypes, falsities or inexactitudes.


Have You seen the famous Oscar nominated movie "Krakatoa, East of Java?" :)
To the last question. No. I have not yet seen that movie.
To the rest there is something I am not sure about.
Not least the remark about alternate ways depending upon personal interpretation. Well,, probably yes. But how on the other hand can we ignore personal interpretation when it comes to the written word? I don't see we can. Historical texts, books, articles are written by persons untill the day they are somehow made by computers. The later then programmed, so even then there may be human bias involved.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,156
Albuquerque, NM
#6
Consider:

Modern mass media's primary purpose is either to make profits, or to advance someone's vision of a more perfect world. Advertising and propaganda. Neither is good or evil, but woe unto those who forget their fundamental purpose. Serious books and essays by Historians to be read by peers have as their essential purpose the transmission of a body of knowledge, or a concept that may advance our knowledge and understanding of causes, events, and outcomes. This is a valuable distinction that everyone should bear in mind when evaluating the reliability of sources.

It is generally accepted that "knowing" even the simplest event is effectively impossible. Events are a complex result of preexisting causes and trends, shaded by emotions and preconceived notions. The perspective of witnesses is constrained by their position and involvement in events. Each participant in an event experiences only a tiny faction of it, so some may see a bigger picture than others.

Mass media, and lets include for the sake of simplicity periodicals and most fiction, is not constrained by any need to accurately portray the past, the future, or even the present. A major constraint is how the effort will be received by the target audience that has limited prior knowledge and whose interest is fleeting. News broadcasts are typically (in the US) a half hour, with the top news stories taking up only about 15 minutes. Out of all world events and with all the problems we face as a species, we get maybe three stories lasting less than two minutes each. Which stories get the most play? Those that have good eye-candy or that have mass appeal predominate. We shouldn't be surprised that stories and how they are told are long on emotion, but almost devoid of solid information.

Non-fiction books and periodicals on the other hand are generally meant to communicate reliable information and expand the knowledge base of serious students. Unlike mass media, the focus isn't on ephemera but on the underlying and longer term understanding of human endeavor. History is only one of many disciplines that occupy the lives of students, and within that discipline there are a number of "specialties". One might know a whole lot about the History of India and not have a clue about how American History evolved. Within American History, a tenured professor may be able to accurately describe the Gilded Age without more than a passing knowledge of Jackson's War on the Bank. A post-grad historian seeking tenure might write a book detailing their research into Jamestown slathered with footnotes, notes, an annotated bibliography, and a twenty page Index, and yet not be an authority on the sinking of the Main. This sort of study and writing are not designed for any mass audience, and even within the author's specialty is likely very narrowly focused. Who ya' gonn'a believe?

Of course, a twelve part documentary by a world renowned film maker is probably better than a two hour special effects thriller based on the Classic Comic version of Marathon. They both have their place, and we can all enjoy them even when we know their limitations.
 
Jan 2010
3,961
Atlanta, Georgia USA
#7
I believe Fantasus has a good point I'd illustrate by a thread this week re Shakespeare's Richard III. Someone might see that and wonder "Was Richard of York really that much of a monster?" thus leading to study of real history. I wouldn't rely on drama or TV shows, etc., for history, but if it tempts people to "the real stuff" then that's good.
 
Oct 2013
12,352
Europix
#9
To the last question. No. I have not yet seen that movie...
It's a good old movie.

But I didn't mentioned it randomly, I mentioned it because it's an example (not history linked but geography linked) to what I was saying: the Krakatoa volcano is situated at West of Java …
 
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