Academia Or the People?(Reaction paper 7)

Making public history can be extremely difficult, especially when writing public history. The reason being, it’s different from academic writing that most college students and professors are used to. For example, George Orwell says in Thomas Cauvin book that you should “never use a long word when a shorter one will do.” Page 117. Public history is less formal in writing style so you don’t have to write big words no one knows about. Also you are not confined to writing a particular style like you do in a book. Publishers might want you to use their writing style. In Public History you don’t worry about that. One of the most difficult task a public historian must do is grab the interest of public readers. What are some the best ways public historians can do that?

Going a little further back in the book readings on page 115 Cauvin says “…, History magazines have also been a major aspect in public history writing.” I think historical magazines is a good starting place back in the 1940’s. However, magazines are generally not free and require you to pay a subscription fee. Even if the historical magazine is free you would still need to set up an account of some kind. Most people wouldn’t do it because it’s a hassle to sign up, regardless of the little time it would take. This is why La, Seattle, New York and other Times online newspapers are awesome because it’s free and they normally report something interesting or seriously important articles like current road conditions.

Sometimes historical fictional novels can be more appealing than a highly regarded history book because it tells the story better by using emotions of the characters in it. George Beck says on page 119 that historical fiction bring up a lot of questions. Would the popularity of historical fiction novels benefit academic writing or threatened academic history? In a way, it benefits academic books because people who read historical fiction may want to read what the true history of their favorite character is. In retrospect, it can hinder academic books because historical fiction is easier and more entertaining to read, taking away the audience. Yet, its difficult to identify historical accuracy of what is being said in a historical fiction novel without proper bibliographies and foot or end notes.

Lastly one of the best ways to portray public history is using pictures and video clips. Page 121 talks about graphic novels and how should they be used in context to academic history? I think they are great with showing how some of people in the past felt about certain situations. For example, there was a civil war graphic novel promotion at my university. The pictures showed a lot more emotion than an academic book ever could. Another item which would get the public interested a lot is using historical accurate memes. The one uploaded is a painting of Henry Knox in his military uniform during the American revolution.



Originally from Wikipedia


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