Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Historical Methods and Interpretations

Our interview of that wonderful Cuban-American lady at the library last week reinforced my view of Castro and his dictatorship. Of the many waves of immigrants that have arrived on America's shores, Cuban refugees from Castro's opression in the early 1960's expected to be returning to their homeland after Castro's overthrow, and hence, viewed their residence in the United States as a temporary affair. Here we are fifty years later, and many of these Cuban-Americans, their children and grand-children are still in the U.S. and are American citizens. The stories of these original refugees are heart breaking. What Castro did in his early years in power was to force into exile many of Cuba's "best and brightest" to the United States. This was to the detriment of Cuba and the professional and cultural enrichment of the United States.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


This week we will complete our discussion of course themes. Our discussion will focus on our biography projects. For our class meeting and discussion on our blog, consider the following questions: How does a good biographer approach his or her subject? What special problems does biography pose for the historian, who is often far removed in time from his or her subject? To what extent should the biographer attempt to explore motivations, thoughts, emotions, and other aspects of the subject as an individual that may or may not have influenced their decisions? To what extent can the biographer do this? Consider Robin Collingwood's claim that the biographer should attempt to "get inside the minds" of their subjects. What problems does such an approach create? Please listen to the presentations of your peers via our pod casting channel on biography. Get the link to the biography channel for the course on the left side of the blog main page. We have pod casts from all but two or three of the students.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Historical Methods and Interpretations

Personal, ecorded interviews can play a key role in recording historical events. What must be kept in mind is that the subject's memory will often fail to recall certain key incidents or worse yet, embellish or invent incidents in order to make his or her story more interesting or plausable. That being said, a carefully thought out and carefully recorded interview can often provide valuable historical data when combined with other methods of evaluating historical events.

Historical Methods and Interpretations

President Lyndon Johnson noted, in effect, that American politics are nothing more than an amalgamation of local politics from every county
in the nation. The same holds true for American History. While we tend to think that historical places like Williamsburg, Gettysburg, Valley Forge or Washington, D.C. are where history actually "happened." We should always keep in mind that a lot of history has happened in our own backyards. Far-away events have often impacted local history and the study of local history will make our nation's history seem much more significent, closer and personal.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oral History

Several of our students presented at the iPod showcase for the Apple Digital Campus Leadership Institute. I am very proud of our projects, and you should be too. For this week, we have Dr. Lee Ann Caldwell with us to discuss oral hisory. Most of you know Dr. Caldwell and I know we will enjoy this session. It gets even better, as Dr. Jesse Hingson has arranged some projects for us to complete in oral history. You will be interviewing members of the Cuban community here. Dr. Hingson has graciously arranged all of this and will be lending his help to you while we work through the project. Once again, we will be pod casting the interviews along with your analysis of the material. If you have not listened to the genealogy projects of your peers, you will want to do that, as they were very interesting. We have lots to discuss about our materials over the last couple of weeks, so I am looking forward to our next class and to discussing these materials on the blog.