More on the Museum of the History of American History

StilesA couple of weeks ago we published a post on Pulitzer Prize-winner T.J. Stiles‘s idea to have a museum devoted to American historiography.  We had fun with this idea on Twitter, as our post indicates.

Stiles has now floated this idea again in a recent article at History News Network titled “We Need a Museum that Tells Us How We Came to Believe What We Believe.”  Here is a taste:

It is time we built a Museum of the History of American History.

If Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville march and murder did nothing else, they awoke much of America to the ongoing battle over the public memory of the Civil War. The resulting outrage shows that memory matters. Memory makes meaning. Memory makes politics.

And politics makes memory. So does the formal study and writing of history, of course, but the relationship between the discipline of history and memory—or broadly shared cultural assumptions—is complicated. Conventional wisdom shapes historians, who often reinforce it with their work; on the other hand, many challenge it by marshaling evidence and arguments that, on occasion, change the public mind and seep back into politics. I don’t mean, then, that we need a historiography museum, but one that traces the intertwining of the popular imagination and the professional study of history. It would go beyond the question, “What happened?” to ask “How did we come to believe that this is what happened?” The answer to the latter can be just as important as to the first.

Read the rest here.

 

2 thoughts on “More on the Museum of the History of American History

  1. I have long thought we should teach historiography much earlier. In the majority of secondary history classrooms, history is seen as unquestionable nonfiction just like science text books. It’s not until you get to college that you truly learn the art of history.

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