EDU11GCL - Genres in Children’s Literature Historical Realism Week 9 Lecture 1 The events of the past and the readers of the present
Definition In historical fiction the events of the past are told as the stories of people who seem real to us. As History becomes a story about someone that we know, it gives us the opportunity to vicariously experience life in the past, and to consider historical events as issues that had real consequences for the people who lived them, rather than as abstract concepts. Cullinan and Galda, (2002) Literature and the child. ch. 8 Historical Fiction
The events of the past are told … • Historical fiction is placed in the past, and the time and place in the past determine the story’s setting • Everyday physical details, such as vehicles, clothing, or food preparation for example, must fit the time and the place • Details of Context must also be accurate: e.g. political, religious or social issues, beliefs and superstitions etc. • Sometimes little is known of the period, and at other times much is known. However much is interpolated, what is known must be accurate
… as the stories of people who seem real to us. • History presents facts. It cannot deny reality • Fiction is not real. It did not happen • Historical fiction is realistic - the events could have occurred and the people portrayed could have lived • Biography - focuses on the life of an individual - reports after the event • Historical fiction - presents what could have happened during the event • Bounded by the undeniable reality, but fills in the gaps
… to vicariously experience life in the past • To turn facts into fiction, the writer must combine imagination with facts, to create a good storyi.e an integrated narrative with a fictional protagonist in an engaging plot • Willingness to identify with protagonists • Compare with fantasy, realism (problems and issues), adventure - whatever the genre, it must still be a good story
… to consider historical events as issues that had real consequences for the people who lived them • The historical facts are the vehicle carrying the story to the reader • The historical facts have their own, undeniable integrity - they helped create the current world, for good or bad • Education or Entertainment? Is the major focus on the past or the present?
Evaluating Historical Realism Criteria to evaluate Historical Fiction 1. Does the book tell a good story, blending fact with fiction in such a way that the background does not overwhelm to the story? (Lit Crit) 2. Is the story accurate and authentic in every detail, including the setting and the known events of history? (History)
Evaluating Historical Realism 3. Does the story adequately reflect the values and spirit of the times, or is it written from the point of view of today? (History) 4. Is the authenticity of the language preserved in both the spoken word and in the description and comparisons of the written word? (History) 5. Does the theme provide insight and understanding for today’s living as well as in the past? (Lit Crit)
Evaluation indicators 1. What historic era is the setting for the story? • What events are consistent with historic records? • Are there inaccuracies, omissions or misconstructions? • Which characters are real?
Evaluation indicators 2. Can you visualise the daily life of the characters? • Their clothes? Their houses? • The method of transport? • The food they eat? • The songs the sing? • The sights and sounds they encounter as they walk down the street, through the marketplace or village? • Do you understand their religions? • Their trades, economy, monetary values? • The relationships between members of the family?
Evaluation indicators 3. Who is telling the story? • Whose perspective are we getting? • Are they real or imagined? • How does this impact on the language they use:Is it contemporary, everyday English, colloquial equivalents, “Gadzookery” or carefully researched authenticity? • How does this affect the narrative voice?
Evaluation indicators 4. What values are expressed ? • Do the values reflect today’s more enlightened times? E.g. the roles of women, racial attitudes, political and social authorities, modern medicine or attitudes to life and death. • Characters have to act in accordance with the values and beliefs of their time.
Evaluation indicators 5. Do the themes illuminate the problems of today by examining those of yesteryear. These themes may include: • meanings of freedom; • loyalty and treachery; • love and hatred; • acceptance of new ways; • closed minds verses questioning ones; • the struggle between good and evil.