Historical Fiction with Dragons--and Native Americans


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Discusses historical fiction, with some examples that involve dragons, and touches on Native Americans and Thanksgiving.

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Historical Fiction with Dragons--and Native Americans

  1. 1. Historical Fiction . . . and Dragons? (and Native Americans) Fall 2008 ELE 616 Research in Children’s Literature
  2. 2. Define historical fiction? <ul><li>historical fiction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 character s may be completely fiction al, 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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For more information , connect to the Historical Novel Society or try the historical fiction section of Genreflecting . Click here to connect to the Yahoo! list of historical fiction Web site s. Compare with nonfiction . See also : Scott O'Dell Award . </li></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  3. 3. But, what is Historical Fiction, forsooth? <ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  4. 4. What is History, though? <ul><li>Whatever else it may be – it is NOT truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>History, in other words, is tailored for its audience. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The facts that survive are absurdly inadequate. The interpretation that is put on them is a huge distortion even of those few facts.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>History is but a fable agreed upon </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  5. 5. What is History, then? <ul><li>History is not quite the out and out truth that it seems </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>History is but a fable agreed upon </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  6. 6. Where does that leave Historical Fiction? <ul><li>Historical fiction is the most primal, the most NATURAL of literary forms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>. . . 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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>History is but a fable agreed upon </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  7. 7. Differences between history and historical fiction? <ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Quoted by Cindy Vallar in Historical Fiction vs. History </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>See her selected Articles on Historical Fiction vs. History (scroll down page ) </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  8. 8. Problems with writing Historical Fiction <ul><li>The Problem of Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>just how “past” is “past”? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Problem of “Truth” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical Fiction or Fictional History? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Problem of Balance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How much “authentic” detail? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Problem of Accuracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you avoid errors or anachronisms? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Problem of Provenance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Where does the story come from? </li></ul></ul>Historical Fiction Fall 1998 Historical Fiction or Fictionalized History? Problems for Writers of Historical Novels for Young Adults Joanne Brown
  9. 9. How do these authors do it? <ul><li>Making it real: bringing historical fiction alive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  10. 10. Teaching Historical Fiction <ul><li>Stephanie Labert , Calico Rock Elementary Library Media Center , NC: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The question has always been, “How do you make history fun?”  The answer is quite simply, “Put away your text book and pick up a great selection of historical fiction novels.”  History has always been an interest of mine, but I just hated all of the miserably boring history classes.  Each year students come into my class saying that they don't like social studies.  This is what some of them have had to say about social studies this year. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See a Categorized List of Historical Fiction Novels from the Colonial Period to World War II </li></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  11. 11. Adding dragons to historical fiction? <ul><li>Dragonwings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Inspired by the account of a Chinese immigrant who made a flying machine in 1909, Laurence Yep's historical novel beautifully portrays the rich traditions of the Chinese community as it made its way in a hostile new world. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Golden Mountain Chronicles </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  12. 12. Web Resources for Dragonwings Historical Fiction The American Dream in Dragonwings
  13. 13. Author of Dragonwings Historical Fiction
  14. 14. Another sensitive historical fiction topic <ul><li>Deconstructing the Myths of “The First Thanksgiving” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Myth #1 : “The First Thanksgiving” occurred in 1621. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin Revised 06/12/06 http://www.oyate.org/resources/shortthanks.html Recommended books from an Indian perspective “Books to avoid” about Thanksgiving </li></ul></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  15. 15. Useful background books from Native American viewpoint <ul><li>Guests by Michael Dorris </li></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Turtle Island: Native Curriculum in Early Childhood Classrooms by Guy W. Jones and Sally Moomaw </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 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.” </li></ul></ul>Historical Fiction
  16. 16. A Reenactment Site Historical Fiction
  17. 17. The End Historical Fiction