Do Zombies Care About
Some fine points about studying history and why it’s a good idea
1. Did you know that our
word “History” has a
Historia is a Greek word meaning
“inquiry; knowledge acquired by
To the ancient Greeks
Rhetoric: Greek. The art of
speaking or writing effectively--
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary.
Rhetoric Includes: narration;
persuasion; communication of
knowledge; questions of truth
and morality (according to
Plato and Aristotle).
--When we investigate the past, do we look for knowledge and
Answers to questions of truth and morality?
--Do people use the study of history to persuade others to their
Point of view?
--Is this use of historical investigation appropriate?
--Did Plato and Aristotle worry about accuracy?
If history is an investigation into the past to acquire knowledge and
communicate that knowledge through speaking and writing, using narrative,
argument, persuasion, and asking questions about truth, ethics and morality;
shouldn’t we be able to agree about history?
But what about your liberal uncle and your Tea Party father-in-law on Thanksgiving?
Do they agree about history?
Debate over the National Anthem (click on this link)
How does human complexity enter into a discussion of history?
Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created
equal…” Yet Thomas Jefferson owned other men as slaves.
Did the South and the North view the Civil War the same way?
Everybody Has an Opinion
About What History is…
History is… An investigation and discussion of the past
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” William Faulkner,
Requiem for a Nun. (1950)
“The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” L.P.
Hartley, The Go-Between. (1953)
And More Opinions…
History Is … asking questions about the meaning of the past:
How did we come to be who we are?
“History is the essence of innumerable biographies.” --Thomas Carlyle, On
“History is little else than a picture of human crimes and misfortunes.” --
Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire, L’Ingeneu (1757).
“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are
and why we are the way we are.” –David McCollough
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” –Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
And Even More Opinions…
History is… An Awareness of perspectives that are different from
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” –Winston
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and
obliterate their own understanding of their history.” –George
Can We Ever Really Know the past?
“It frustrates and fascinates me that we'll never know for sure, that
despite the best efforts of historians and scientists and poets, there
are some things we'll just never know. What the first song sounded
like. How it felt to see the first photograph. Who kissed the first kiss,
and if it was any good.” –Isaac Merion, Warm Bodies.
What do these questions have to do with
Glad you asked…
We will be doing history
We will investigate the past using various sources
We will ask questions about the past
We will examine different perspectives about the past
We will write about the past—sometimes in narrative form, sometimes in persuasive form
We will analyze what other historians have concluded about the past
5 Points to Remember when “Doing”
Chronology matters: some things happened before other things
Geography matters: some things happened only in some places
Source Questions matter
Who, what, when, where, why
Complexity is unavoidable
Events have more than one cause
Society is a mix of good and bad, unexpected consequences happen
Change over time is inevitable
All interpretations are not created equal
People are entitled to their opinions but they are not entitled to their own facts?
Historians try to identify the facts, the perspectives, the memories of the civilizations
they study and the sources they come from… and we converse about the past
One final thing: The 6 C’s of History
When we do history, we need to remember the 6 C’s
1. Change over time: Historians view history as a progression from point A to point B with point B always
being closer to the present.
2. Chronology: Because some things happened before other things, we need to keep in mind the chronology
3. Context: In what context did an event occur? In what context was a source we are analyzing created?
Who was the audience? What was going on in the larger world?
4. Complexity: Not everyone experiences history the same way and different people have different
perspectives about the same event. Everybody is complex as a result, history is complex.
5. Causation: There is usually more than one cause of an event. Not everyone agrees on causation.
6. Contingency: The effect of choices that some people in the past made have an effect on choices that
other people in the past made and the effects of these choices may impact the present.
So… Why study the past and what can a
zombie tell us about why we should?
How do R’s questions about himself and his society relate to the study of history?
What 2 quotations about history in the previous slides sum up your view of why we should
What are two questions about U.S. history from discovery to the end of the civil war that
you would like to explore further?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI1AkFh3QgU (Warm Bodies clip)