Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might...

With the new year upon us, it causes one to think of the wishes, hopes, and resolutions for the year ahead. Some wish to lose weight. Some resolve to eat better. Some hope for a change in their circumstances - a new job, a new house, a new {insert want or need}. At the heart of these explorations is a search into identity - who we think we are or should be or want to be seen as. 

In November 2010, historian Simon Schama published in The Guardian his vision of how and why history should be taught in schools. In this article, he states that history is not a measure to merely calm or please arguments and misfortunes. "It's exactly because history is, by definition, a bone of contention that the arguments it generates resist national self-congratulation."

The Greek word historia meant and was used as "inquiry."  The "father of history" Herodotus traveled and wrote about the people and places he saw examining the cultures and legends of regions he ventured through. So, according to Schama, the inquiry into a nation's history "is not the uncritical genealogy of the Wonderfulness of Us, but it is, indispensably, an understanding of the identity of us."  The investigation and analysis of history is integral to the self-examination of who we are today.

I am preoccupied with this inquiry into the past to better understand today. Who are we and why? What is the impact of this political incident or that economic event on the culture and society of a peoples? How did it all coalesce into a nation and a national identity? 

As an anglophile, I've chosen to delve in to British history to explore these questions. I hope to consider these weighty inquiries in this forum throughout the coming year. Answers may not be found and further questions may result, but the conversation will begin. 

1 comment:

Marty Rhodes Figley said...

Rebecca, I'll look forward to reading about your historical delvings on this thoughtful, intelligent blog.