Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Salem State University History Spotlight

Somehow, I never got the heads up that this little article got published over at Salem State.

I love that public history got recognition. I very much love that the Six Word Memoir Project got recognition. I do not love the quote, which I cannot quite believe I said and certainly don't remember saying, "History is pointless and useless if the public doesn't engage."

Really?  Do I even believe that?

Feels like echoes of Becker.  "The history that lies inert in unread books does no work in the world. The history that does work in the world, the history that influences the course of history, is living history, that pattern of remembered events, whether true or false, that enlarges and enriches the collective specious present, the specious present of Mr. Everyman."

History, Becker reminds us,  is both what is said and done and also the record of things said and done.  History, in the former sense, exists regardless of history in the latter.  And of course it matters.  It is the mettle, the building blocks of our world.  Without history, regardless of engagement, there is nothing.

And yet and yet.  There is a hint of truth in that obnoxious statement I supposedly made.  Without anyone to learn history, to care about it, to engage with it, the record of things said and done doesn't do or mean much of anything, does it?

Sometimes I despair of myself as a teacher, when even I can't understand the things I've said or the things, at least, that have been attributed to me! 

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Update:  One of my students read the quote and immediately declared, "There is no way in the world you ever would have said that.  You said exactly the opposite in class on multiple occasions!" She took it upon herself to email the office in charge of writing these departmental spotlights, insisted on a retraction, got them to contact me --- and voila:  the troublesome sentence is gone!  I take it back --- I am not despairing of my teaching skills today!

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