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Provocative excerpts from primary and secondary sources (some with audio glosses). Read the rationale behind these sound bites for more information.


11-20 of 734 Sound Bites. [show all]

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11) We should not assume that history is merely a book of recipes to be consulted. That risks grave error and may well lead us to miss a major advantage of historical study. It is the process of entering into the past, making a segment of it for a time into our present, that is often as important as the information we learn. . . . If we rearrange the past when we write or speak about it, so too does the study of earlier times change us. Transformation results when we place ourselves in the position of other people in bygone times. Historical study can pull us away from self-centeredness . . . a necessary first step in the development of maturity and wisdom. (Stephen Vaughn 6) [SoundBite #11]

12) When one is too curious about the practices of past centuries, one ordinarily remains very ignorant of the practices of this one. (Descartes) [SoundBite #12]

13) The historian, then, is an individual human being. Like other individuals, he is also a social phenomenon, both the product and the conscious or unconscious spokesman of the society to which he belongs; it is in this capacity that he approaches the facts of the historical past. (Edward Hallett Carr 29) [SoundBite #13]

14) Both reel history and real history should be questioned. (Melissa Barrero, Lehigh University) [SoundBite #1357]

15) In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community -- and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. (Benedict Anderson 5-6) (hear audio gloss by Edward J. Gallagher) [SoundBite #15]

16) History textbooks for elementary and secondary schools are not like other kinds of histories. They serve a different function, and they have their own traditions, which continue independent of academic history writing. In the first place, they are essentially nationalistic histories. . . . In the second place, they are written not to explore but to instruct -- to tell children what their elders want them to know about their country. This information is not necessarily what anyone considers the truth of things. Like time capsules, the texts contain the truths selected for posterity. (Frances Fitzgerald, America 47) [SoundBite #16]

17) It is time for historians to accept the mainstream historical film as a new kind of history that, like all history, operates within certain limited boundaries. . . . We must begin to think of history on film as closer to past forms of history, as a way of dealing with the past that is more like oral history, or history told by bards, or griots in Africa, or history contained in classic epics. Perhaps film is the postliterate equivalent of the preliterate way of dealing with the past, of those forms of history in which scientific, documentary accuracy was not yet a consideration, forms in which any notion of fact was of less importance than the sound of a voice, the rhythm of a line, the magic of words. One can have similar aesthetic moments in film. . . . Such elements may well detract from the documentary aspect, yet they add something as well, even if we do not yet know how to evaluate that "something." (Robert Rosenstone 78) [SoundBite #17]

18) If you want to send a message in Hollywood, use Western Union. (attributed to Hollywood movie producer Samuel Goldwyn) [SoundBite #18]

19) The director [in the movie Sweet Liberty (1986)] holds up a cautionary hand. "Movie audiences are made up mostly of people between fifteen and twenty-two," he says. "They want to see three things: people defying authority, people destroying property, and people taking their clothes off." He is making a movie about the American Revolution. When the facts of history conflict with the audience's demands, he tells us, the audience wins. Put movies in one pan of the scale and history in the other, and history turns out to be made of feathers. (Kenneth M. Cameron 7) [SoundBite #19]

20) Whether one deems our present society wondrous or awful or both, history reveals how we arrived at this point. Understanding our past is central to our ability to understand ourselves and the world around us. (James W. Loewen 2) [SoundBite #1262]