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History & Literature: Exploring the Relationship

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Provide a brief summary of the relationship between history and literature by answering the following questions. What is the relationship between history and literature? Is one subordinate to the other? What can we learn, for example, (be specific)? Does knowledge of history make a story more powerful, more "real?" Does history create literature and, in turn, literature create history?

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Dear Student,

For the purpose of providing you the best possible guide in answering this question. What I will give you below is a concise but comprehensive enough narrative to help get you going. The word history can have varied connotations in varied disciplines. In the general, when we say 'history' we refer to past experiences as in the sentence, 'What is your academic history?' or 'Our family history indicates my great grandfather was British.' or ' I have a history with falling for the wrong person.' Used in the general term - history refers to past events in a person or any other subject's 'life' - I say 'life' because at times we even use the word to indicate the 'history of ownership as in 'the history of this Castle'. But for the purpose of this discussion, I want you to remember that when you are studying History as an academic discipline, you are studying history as a social science - the critical and academic inquiry that seeks to understand the past with a focus on the written records pertaining to the human experience - 'Human History' from the earliest period when scholars can trace evidentiary records about human activities to the recent past easily accessed in an age of digital 'fingertip' information. The history then referred to in the question you posted is documented human events. For the purpose of understanding the difference between 'history' and 'literature' we must review the principles of historiography - the science that makes and dictates what a 'history' must be. To do this we must reckon back to the time of Thucydides, a contemporary of Herodotus - the ancient scholar many deem as the father of History via his work, the 'Histories' - a record of his observation of the social world and realities in his travels all over the ancient world.

Herodotus is an important figure - his work generated interest about the many places and peoples that populated their known world. Since it was written and remained in Athenian and Greek Libraries, his work were then preserved and studied by the Romans who looked at knowledge as a way of understanding their reality. Herodotus' work gave knowledge to those who read him and gave the Romans advantage over knowing their 'enemy' which allowed them to conquer. What made Herodotus' work lacking as 'a history' is what makes Thucydides work a 'science'? Historiography, the science of researching, writing and putting together a historical account point to Thucydides early work as among the 'pillars' of historiography that established it as a social science. His account of the 2 decade-Peloponnesian War that took place between Spartan-led Peloponnesian League & Athenians in Ancient Greece greatly informed writers, historians and scholars of antiquity that came after him with his work still resounding in the halls of Medieval, Renaissance and now modern scholars. There are two schools of thought that emerged through the ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides an expansive and comprehensive discussion and narrative discussing the inter-relation of history and literature as academic disciplines that are influence, derive from and at times have created a 'depency' on each other. The relationship between said disciplines are explored and the discussion illustrates by using the work of Historians like Anthony Beevor and ancient classical accounts by Thucydides and Herodotus and literary work of writers Charles Dickens, Promoedya Ananta Toer and Jose Rizal. The role that each discipline takes on as 'text-source' for each other is also explained. History and literature's role and sociological research is also touched. Web-sources for expansion are provided.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

"The Romanticization of Love in the Mass Media" by Dr. Mary-Lou Galician

First, consider the following discussion from: "The Romanticization of Love in the Mass Media" by Dr. Mary-Lou Galician:
Higher usage of certain mass media is related to unrealistic expectations of relationships and leads to dissatisfaction in real-life relationships. Disney romance is deeply ingrained into the American psyche. Our unrealistic expectations about romance can lead to us becoming very dissatisfied with the reality of our own romantic lives.
Many social critics, relationship therapists and popular books about couples have accused the mass media of brainwashing consumers with portrayals of romanticized love that is unattainable as a goal and unhealthy as a model and thereby, contributing to the constructions of these unrealistic expectations. A large part of the problem is the glorification of false love through the media, which hold out insubstantial but glamorous relations as a never-ending lure. The relationships portrayed by the media are a symbol of status rather than of emotional health or personal well-being (13,14).
Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Galician? Are the relationships portrayed in the media unrealistic and harmful to the expectations of our real life partnerships? Or are there just as many examples of realistic loving relationships in the media as there are in literature?
Does literature do any better job at accurately portraying realistic love than does popular media?
Love as portrayed in the media: Love stories are the topic of many movies, and nearly all movies have at least a love story line even if small. Other types of media also often portray love such as television comedies, dramas, soap operas, fairy tale cartoons, etc. Many people would say that there is a particular movie regarding love that feels similar to their own experience with it. For example, The Notebook is a movie (usually categorized as "chick flick") that portrays romantic love. Does that type of love exist in real life?
Love may not always be portrayed as romantic; it may be portrayed as painful. There's a movie called When a Man Loves a Woman about a husband who sticks by his alcoholic wife through the screaming, fighting, drunken chaos, and her treatment, and then welcomes her back home. Does a movie like that portray true love?
Love as portrayed in literature: Consider the literature we have read in this unit written by some true romantics as well as some realists who see the challenging sides of loving long term, not just when it's new and exciting. Does any of the literature we read accurately portray the emotions of true love? Why or why not? Pay attention to the metaphors in the poems, the symbols in the stories, and other fictional elements as you write about the literature.

Your Writing Assignment
1. Write an opening statement (thesis statement) stating your opinion on whether literature or popular media is more adept at portraying the complexity of loving human relationships and reacting to Dr. Mary-Lou Galician's assertions above.

2. In your support paragraphs, give specific examples of metaphor, symbol, character, dialogue, language, and other elements of fiction from the literature of this unit that support your point. Refer to both poems and stories.
3. For media, refer to movies, television programs, Disney fairy tales, soap operas, and other visual media to support your point.

Purpose: Comparing the theme of love in literature to the same theme as portrayed in popular media involves critical thinking regarding the culture of the media and how it influences our thinking on our real life relationships. Comparing literature to media also allows the student to think critically about a very familiar experience (watching movies and television) to a less familiar experience (analyzing literature).

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