Histories: The Alternative

Historians and citizens often think of History as being only what is in the textbook. When going through the history of the world, all the different years and dates are treated as specific benchmarks throughout history, but in terms of histories there are many different ways of interpreting a specific event. Thinking in terms of histories rather than History is beneficial because it allows the audience to think bigger, form their own opinions, and presents the subject matter in different ways to improve remembering the topics and increasing the interest in those topics.

The benefits of thinking through histories are the ability of the audience to understand the material while making connections and gaining interest in the topic. Histories are the friendly version of History, so histories being presented in a friendly manor, the public can comprehend the material in a much easier fashion such as entertainment. Historical fiction is a way that an audience can become interested in a given topic and will become more likely to pursue the interest to learn more about what had happened. They would be given the opportunity of many different views on the material and presented with the opportunity to form their own opinion. Such an opportunity would be the video game The Oregon Trail. The Oregon Trail depicts the west ward travel during the westward expansion time period in the United States. During the making of the game, the game designers used diaries from the travels to depict the randomness, likelihood of becoming ill, and even down to the weather. Data on the Oregon Trail was collected from books and diaries and provided accurate information regarding the cost of goods, types of supplies to buy, and the frequency of disasters (Desert Hat). This game depicting the life of the traveling family helps younger students to this day learn the values of rationing, sharing, as well as the history behind the journey of The Oregon Trail.

Another way that histories can be beneficial rather than History is things that are entertaining are easier to remember that something that is monotonous. An example of a war or battle  told through the medium of a History textbook would most likely not be remembered as well when compared to a movie depicting the war. Remembering such events are beneficial as depicted by the well-known saying “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” by George Santayana. The author of the textbook version would simply display the outcome of the war and is usually told through the victor’s point of view. The author would then quickly move on to the next subject. Using the term histories, the audience should be exposed to both sides of the war, the victor and losers, through a variety of mediums including entertainment in which they would be more likely to pay attention and remember the events that took place.

Histories should be considered as an alternative view of History as they allow the audience to be exposed to more than a single view point. Showing both sides of a war, debate, or argument can be beneficial to the society as a whole in understanding the history of a certain topic. The author of the textbook present’s only one opinion that may be historically correct, but it is not the only way to view a certain subject. As well as entertainment being a portal to get people focused on a History subject can also be used to tell histories instead a documentary showing one point of view.

Desert Hat. “Oregon Trail Ver. 3 (BASIC 3.1, 1978).” The Ambiguity of Holocaust Games and “Suicide Bomber”: Training or Coping?. WordPress 7 Nov. 2010. <http://deserthat.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/oregon-trail-ver-3-basic-3-1-1978/>

About brettsteff

Attending Trinity University as a freshman.
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