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The Past Within Us: Media, Memory, History

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Overview

Despite predictions of the “death of the past” and the “end of history,” the past refuses to go away. In fact, the start of the twenty-first century has seen an upsurge of interest in popular representations of history on the large and small screen, and of impassioned political conflicts over rival understandings of the past. Historical responsibility and apology have become contentious topics of domestic politics and of international diplomatic relations, and memory a profitable commodity for sale to mass ...
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Overview

Despite predictions of the “death of the past” and the “end of history,” the past refuses to go away. In fact, the start of the twenty-first century has seen an upsurge of interest in popular representations of history on the large and small screen, and of impassioned political conflicts over rival understandings of the past. Historical responsibility and apology have become contentious topics of domestic politics and of international diplomatic relations, and memory a profitable commodity for sale to mass markets. Against this background, how do historians deal with the problems of the search for “historical truth”?

The Past Within Us approaches these issues by examining the problems of representing history in the popular media. Drawing on examples from East Asian and American as well as European history, it poses the question: What happens when accounts of history are transferred from one medium to another? How far does the medium shape the message? How can historians deploy contemporary media in ways which evoke and develop the historical imagination?

From the romances of Walter Scott to Steven Spielberg blockbusters, from online Irish nationalism to Japanese revisionist comic books, The Past Within Us explores some of the more dramatic modern popular representations and reflects on the key challenges and possibilities for the communication of history in a multimedia age. 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859845134
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 10/6/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 974,853
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 8.32 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

1 The past is not dead 1
2 Unimaginable pasts : the horizons of historical fiction 33
3 Shadows on the lens : memory as photograph 71
4 Moving pictures : the filming of history 120
5 Angles of vision : comic-book histories 158
6 Random access memory : history in a multimedia age 206
7 Towards a political economy of historical truthfulness 229
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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    how the media shapes memory and history

    Morris-Suzuki's cultural study focusing on the concept and reality of history is especially timely considering the notions that society is in a 'post-truth' era that have been floating around. Though advocating that there is such a matter as meaningful history, she understands that truth as embodied in history is not simple or static. The history she discusses is not academic or theoretical history, but rather history as encountered 'through the filter of other people's interpretations and imaginations' through diverse media sources including fiction, photographs, graphic novels, newsreels, films, and the Internet, among others. In such circumstances of contemporary, postmodern, life, the grasp of history required for sufficient understanding of circumstances and events as well as for understanding of other people and groups is more a matter of 'attentiveness to diverse representations of the past' than devising a comprehensive theory or arguments over the definition and meaning of history. In a wide-ranging cultural analysis in support of the importance of a comprehensible, admittedly loosely-defined, concept of history, Morris-Suzuki not only gives positive substance to this, but also demonstrates how false, misleading history can be concocted by unscrupulously selective material and the fabrication of baseless controversies. This author is a professor of history and research at the Australian National University.

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