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  • 1. Fall 2009
    ELE 616 Research in Children’s Literature
    Historical Fiction
  • 2. Define historical fiction?
    historical fiction
    A narrative in the form of a novel set in a specific place and period in history, or based on an event or sequence of events that actually happened. The characters may be completely fictional, but if they are known to have existed, their feelings, words, and actions are reconstructed and to some degree imagined by the author. The presence of dialogue in a historical work is usually a clue that the account is fictionalized.
    For more information, connect to the Historical Novel Society or try the historical fiction section of Genreflecting. Click here to connect to the Google list of historical fiction Web sites. Compare with nonfiction. See also: Scott O'Dell Award.
    Historical Fiction
  • 3. But, what is Historical Fiction, forsooth?
    “The historical novel has always been a literary form at war with itself. The very term, implying a fiction somehow grounded in fact – a lie with obscure obligations to the truth – is suggestive of the contradictions of the genre.”
    Quote from a review, cited in “History is but a fable agreed upon: the problem of truth in history and fiction,” speech by Richard Lee to Romantic Novelists Association
    Historical Fiction
  • 4. What is History, though?
    Whatever else it may be – it is NOT truth
    Each decade throws up new approaches to history, finds new or previously overlooked sources and gives entirely new weight to the facts they do agree on.
    History, in other words, is tailored for its audience.
    The facts that survive are absurdly inadequate. The interpretation that is put on them is a huge distortion even of those few facts. 
    History is but a fable agreed upon
    Historical Fiction
  • 5. What is History, then?
    History is not quite the out and out truth that it seems
    At its best it is only one historian’s selection of what he or she BELIEVES, at any particular time, is most relevant from the body of material that survives. At worst – well at worst, it is no more than the sort of bigoted opinion and blatant manipulation of sources that we’ve recently seen exposed in the work of holocaust denier, DAVID IRVING.
    History is but a fable agreed upon
    Historical Fiction
  • 6. Where does that leave Historical Fiction?
    Historical fiction is the most primal, the most NATURAL of literary forms
    Historical fiction. . . is the artistic form that springs from this impulse to give a shape to the past. But it’s not JUST to give a shape to the past. It is to bring part of the past ALIVE into the present.
    . . . all historical fiction . . . makes us feel, as a protagonist, what otherwise would be dead and lost to us. It transports us into the past. And the very best historical fiction presents to us a TRUTH of the past that is NOT the truth of the history books, but a bigger truth, a more important truth – a truth of the HEART.
    History is but a fable agreed upon
    Historical Fiction
  • 7. Differences between history and historical fiction
    Andrew M. Greeley
    History and historical fiction are necessarily not the same thing. The purpose of history is to narrate events as accurately as one can. The purpose of historical fiction is to enable a reader through the perspective of characters in the story to feel that she or he is present at the events. Such a goal obviously requires some modification of the events.
    Quoted by Cindy Vallar in Historical Fiction vs. History
    See her selected Articles on Historical Fiction vs. History (scroll down page)
    Historical Fiction
  • 8. Problems with writing Historical Fiction
    The Problem of Definition
    just how “past” is “past”?
    The Problem of “Truth”
    Historical Fiction or Fictional History?
    The Problem of Balance
    How much “authentic” detail?
    The Problem of Accuracy
    How do you avoid errors or anachronisms?
    The Problem of Provenance
    Where does the story come from?
    Historical Fiction
    Fall 1998
    Historical Fiction or Fictionalized History?Problems for Writers of Historical Novels for Young AdultsJoanne Brown
  • 9. How do these authors do it?
    Making it real: bringing historical fiction alive
    The challenge for me in writing historical fiction is this: How can I see, hear, feel, taste, smell, and know what my main character experienced? I have always done this through a combination of book research, exploring original records, searching for artifacts, doing interviews, and reenactment. I am an experiential learner. I am also somewhat dyslexic, so the book research can take me just so far. Touching real original records and artifacts can often transport my imagination back in time in ways that no microfilm ever could.
    Carbone, E. (2007, June). making it real: bringing historical fiction alive. Teacher Librarian, 34(5), 27-30. Retrieved October 27, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database.
    Historical Fiction
  • 10. Teaching Historical Fiction
    To help you build good fiction into your social studies program, you’ll find:
    Seven Reasons I Teach with Historical Fiction
    Tips for Choosing Good Historical Fiction
    Fifteen Fabulous New Historical Fiction Books
    Is Pocahontas Real? Discovering Where History Stops and the Story Starts
    Historical Fiction
  • 11. Another sensitive historical fiction topic
    Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving”
    Myth #1: “The First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621.
    Fact: No one knows when the “first” thanksgiving occurred. People have been giving thanks for as long as people have existed. Indigenous nations all over the world have celebrations of the harvest that come from very old traditions; for Native peoples, thanksgiving comes not once a year, but every day, for all the gifts of life. To refer to the harvest feast of 1621 as “The First Thanksgiving” disappears Indian peoples in the eyes of non-Native children.
    Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin Revised 06/12/06 books from an Indian perspective “Books to avoid” about Thanksgiving
    Historical Fiction
  • 12. Useful background books from Native American viewpoint
    Guests by Michael Dorris
    Moss, the Native American hero of Michael Dorris' book Guests, learns to recognize the complex emotions within himself and his elders when his tribe invites white settlers to share the harvest feast.
    Turtle Island: Native Curriculum in Early Childhood Classroomsby Guy W. Jones and Sally Moomaw
    “Throughout this book, we have often relied on outstanding children's literature, usually by Native authors, to introduce positive, accurate images of Native peoples to children.”
    Historical Fiction
  • 13. A Reenactment Site
    Historical Fiction
  • 14. Debbie Reese on Reenactment
    Native Americans and Thanksgiving
    Due to lack of time and resources, teachers often recycle activities from one year to the next. I think Thanksgiving reeactments are one of those things. Developing new ways of teaching about Thanksgiving will take time and money. Before that can happen, however, teachers must learn more about Pilgrims, Indians, and "The First Thanksgiving.“
    See also Thanksgiving Lesson Plans
    Historical Fiction
  • 15. Another resource
    Historical Fiction
  • 16. 16
    Historical Fiction
    The End