IV Congreso Internacional
Historia a Debate
Santiago de Compostela, 15-19 de diciembre de 2010
Mesa J. Historia académica y ficción histórica
Jennifer A. Stollman, Michael T. Martin. (University of Michigan, USA)
History Goes to Hollywood and the Beach The Strengths and Challenges of Using Film and Fiction to Learn and Critically Analyze History
The tensions between scholarship in the academy and public realms has extended to movies theaters, television, and the beach. Scholars charge that their serious scholarship competes with what entertainers would argue is interesting and relevant history. Scholars worry that directors and authors and their popular depictions of history sacrifice historical truth in place of entertainment, plot lines, appealing characters, and neat endings. Film directors and writers argue that while they are dedicated to telling interesting historical stories, they argue that their purpose is centrally to entertain using a pivotal event in history to frame their subject. Since the United States’ population principally acquires their historical knowledge through the movies and fiction, historians would do well to limit their antagonisms toward popular depictions of history. To achieve this, we propose in this roundtable to address several aspects of this conflict/debate. First, as facilitators we will lead a discussion focusing on the central challenges facing historians as they confront popular historical narratives in their classes and in their research. Second, we will lead a conversation revisiting the conversations about popular entertainment and the historical profession’s objectives in recounting narrative histories. Third and most importantly, participants at the roundtable will discuss the ways in which the historical profession and the entertainment industry might benefit from each others’ strengths and minimize our weaknesses. If the central goal of these industries is to promote a passion for history then surely we can arrive at common ground. We will discuss strategies to bridge this river of disagreement and instead forge ideas that create a better, comprehensive and perhaps, even a more entertaining history used by both the film and publishing industries and the history profession. Finally, we intend to arrive at ways to create new methodologies to utilize fictional historical depictions in innovative ways that advance our understanding of the historical past. To facilitate this discussion, before the conference we will provide readings (in English) and a series of questions to frame the discussion.