A Short History of Public History January 17, 2011
Monuments and Art • Cave Paintings? • Roman Triumphal Arches • Narmer Palette • Egyptian Stela and Temple Inscriptions • Rosetta Stone
First Archaeologists • Nabodinus – Babylonian King, 556-539 BCE • Thutmosis IV – Egyptian Pharaoh, (reign) 1401–1391 BCE Motives?
First oral historians • Herodotus • Thucydides • Josephus • The Bible?
Readings - Questions • Ronald Grele – “Whose Public? Whose History? What Is the Goal of a Public Historian?” The Public Historian, Vol. 3, No. 1 (Winter, 1981), pp. 40-48. • Who is the author, what is his/her background? • What kind of bias does the author have? • Who is the audience? • What is the main idea/thesis? • How can you relate to this? • What is your opinion on the topic? Do you agree or disagree with the author? • What was the most interesting part of this, and what was least interesting?
Public History Website • http://ncph.org/cms/what-is-public-history/ • Who is the author, what is his/her background? • What kind of bias does the author have? • Who is the audience? • What is the main idea/thesis? • How can you relate to this? • What is your opinion on the topic? • Do you agree or disagree with the author? • What was the most interesting part of this, and what was least interesting?
NCPH Discussion Forums • Did you find any interesting? • What did you agree/disagree with? • Who is writing these?
Discussion Questions • What is your favorite part of public history? If you don’t have one yet, what are you most interested in learning about? • What do you expect to learn in this class? • What is the Goal of a Public Historian, according to Ronald J. Grele? Do you agree?
Weekly Papers Guidelines: • Make sure your essay is at least 2 pages, not including your heading. • Put your name, the date, and the weekly topic at the top of the paper. • BE SURE to ask at least 3 questions in your essay. • Think about these questions: • Who is the author, what is his/her background? What kind of bias does the author have? • Who is the audience? What is the main idea/thesis? How can you relate to this? • What is your opinion on the topic? Do you agree or disagree with the author? • What was the most interesting part of this, and what was least interesting?
So… what IS public history? • What are some of the definitions of public history and where are they from? • English Theologian William Paley, in 1794 , “'public history' was a 'register of the successes and disappointments... and the quarrels of those who engage in contentions [for] power'.” (From Public History Review, vol 10, 2003, p. 5)
Quotes by my facebook friends: • Jane– “Here's how I explain it to people in a bar. "You know how soul-suckingly boring history was in school? With all the dates and battles and dead white guys? Public history is that boring a** s*** plus a whole lot of awesome s*** that no one ever tells you about the people, buildings and stuff that makes history actually cool, presented in a way that helps you realize that the past is just like today, but with funny clothes.” • Kristen– “I usually describe it as non-classroom teaching and preservation (which includes places, spaces, things, and written down things).” • Angie– “I'm sure public history Ryan Gosling has some ideas” (http://publichistorianryangosling.tumblr.com/) • Jim Lewis (Future guest speaker) – “Public history is what we park rangers do best.”
Wikipedia • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_history • “Public history is a term that describes the broad range of activities undertaken by people with some training in the discipline of history who are generally working outside of specialized academic settings. Public history practice has quite deep roots in the areas of historic preservation, archival science, oral history, museum curatorship, and other related fields. The term itself began to be used in the U.S. and Canada in the late 1970s, and the field has become increasingly professionalized since that time. Some of the most common settings for public history are museums, historic homes and historic sites, parks, battlefields, archives, film and television companies, and all levels of government.”
MTSU Website • “The phrase "public history" refers to the pursuit of historical understanding and interpretation in the public realm. Public historians work in a wide range of professional settings with public audiences of all ages. Places of employment for public historians include archives, museums, historic preservation organizations, historic sites, private cultural resource consulting firms, and historical agencies at all levels of government.” • www.mtsu.edu/publichistory
Publichistory.org • http://www.publichistory.org/what_is/definition.html • From NYU’s graduate Program in PH: • Public History is history that is seen, heard, read, and interpreted by a popular audience. Public historians expand on the methods of academic history by emphasizing non-traditional evidence and presentation formats, reframing questions, and in the process creating a distinctive historical practice....Public history is also history that belongs to the public. By emphasizing the public context of scholarship, public history trains historians to transform their research to reach audiences outside the academy.
Which public? Whose history? More Questions… • What is your definition? • What is a “fact”? Is there such a thing? • Who determines these “facts”? Who is right? Can one history be “wrong” and another “right”? • Who writes history? Winners? Losers? Academics? • Differences in ideas of history?
Book activity • Who wrote this? (Editor/publisher/author) • What is the audience? • When was is written? • How do these things affect the writing? • Is there any obvious bias? • Are there any inaccuracies? • How is this Public History?
Owning the past; owning antiquities • James Cuno – Who is he? • “(Ph.D. 1985, Harvard) was President and Director of The Art Insitute of Chicago. Prior to that, he was Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums and Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard (1991-2003). • James Cuno has written and lectured extensively—throughout the U.S., Europe , and Japan —on topics ranging from French caricature of the 18th and 19th centuries to contemporary American Art, as well as on the role of art museums in contemporary American cultural policy. His most recent work on the latter topic is the book Whose Muse? Art Museums and the Public's Trust” (http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/arthistory/faculty/cuno.htm) • Currently - has been named president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust
Notes about Next Week… • For next time, google the Elgin Marbles and read about them. • Bring your answer to the question of WHO should “own” them. • Discussion questions for next time: • What is material culture?How does archaeology relate to public history? • What is NAGPRA? What does it mean? What implications does it have for museums, historians, archaeologists, artifacts, and Native Americans? • What issues do you think may be similar in other areas, in particular in Egypt? • How can this relate to the question of “Who owns the past?” or “Who owns objects?” • Guest Speaker on Thursday – Dr. Dawn McCormack, Egyptologist and Archaeologist – bring questions for her!!
Questions about Cuno’s Intro. • What is provenance? • What would it mean for the world is there was no international movement of antiquities/artifacts? • How do you KNOW where something came from? • Who are the big players in the issues of owning antiquities? • How does this relate to archaeology? (Discussion next week) • What if things weren’t bought and sold? Would museums have anything? Would people be able to see world cultural objects? • Why do antiquities matter? Are they important only in their archaeological context, or are they just pretty? • What is cultural property? Is it possible that it truly exists? • What is America’s “glorious past”? • How do UNESCO world heritage sites factor in? • Possession is power. • …. So…. Who owns the past? • ** Last paragraph of Cuno article incredibly important! ** • Do you agree? Disagree?
Elgin Marbles • History of? • Issues and problems? • So… who “owns” them?
Topic 2 : Archaeology • Intro: http://www.slideshare.net/katiestringer/welcome-to-archaeology-camp-at-the-biblical-history • http://katiestringer.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/organization-and-flexibility-in-museum-education/ • Readings: • NAGPRA Website – especially FAQ and Resources for the Public and Museums • James Gleick, “Keeping It Real,” NY Times Magazine 1/6/2008, pp. 13-14 • Nathan Campbell, Introduction to Material Culture Studies: A Crash Course. Handout. • American Research Center in Egypt website –Current News and Expeditions sections
Questions… Material Culture • What is it? Why is it important? • How does it relate to archaeology & public history? • What can it tell us? • What did you think about the NY Times article? • What is the “magical value”?
NAGPRA • What is NAGPRA? • Who wrote it, and for what audience? • Why was this written? • What happens if things ARE sold for a profit? • What does it mean? What implications does it have for museums, historians, archaeologists, artifacts, and Native Americans? • What are some issues and problems? • Thoughts, experiences, and opinions? • What issues do you think may be similar in other areas, in particular in Egypt? • How can this relate to the question of “Who owns the past?” or “Who owns objects?”
Other thoughts and discussion… • Are we “temporary caretakers”? • What is the purpose of owning something so important to history? • What about historical context? • Anthropology v. history • How does this relate to “owning” the past? • http://whc.unesco.org/
What happens after something is found? • Does it become “public?” How can we MAKE it Public? • Issues and problems? Examples • “That's the weird thing about the field. The whole thing is this sort of quest to remember. We find things, and of course we take measures, catalog, and record...but we end up burying back the majority of these things. We just do it in museum basements instead of the field. We move from graves to mausoleums.” • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6-rQ6Jay6w