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Re: Ch. 10 - Down the Memory Hole: The Disappearance of the Recent Past
Chapter 10 Discussion Questions
1.) Loewen suggests the fact that historical interpretations change over time is vitally important to a good understanding of history, especially recent history. Do you agree? What major events in US and world history have had major interpretation changes since the events occurred? Does the axiom that hindsight is 20/20 apply to history? Why or why not? How far back in time do you consider we could go to safely reinterpret history? Is the reinterpretation of history unnecessarily subject to concerns other than historical ones, e.g. moral/political/philosophical ideals? What does this say about historical reinterpretations?
2.) Loewen posits history books are biased against recent history? Do you think this is a fair criticism? Do history textbook publishers get a pass because recents events are more saliently discussed in a modern politics setting rather than something we can consider to have settled and thus have fairly solid interpretations and opinions regarding? Do you suffer (as I do) from contraction of the past wherein you feel as though things you have lived through are closer in time than they actually are? (For example, I feel like the 1980s was about 15 years ago even though they ended nearly 30 years ago). Does this explain why people don’t regard recent history as history? Why or why not?
3.) My edition of the book lacked any information on September 11th, but I wanted to address it at least. Do you feel there is any good reason to leave it out of a history course? (Or a politics course for that matter)? In the last thirty years has any other event had such a great influence on American society, culture, and politics? Do you feel political landscape we current occupy is directly in response to living in a post-9/11 world? Why or why not?
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