Archive for August, 2008

Recreation of Memory

Friday, August 29th, 2008

A few months back I listened to a podcast on memory from one of my favorite radio shows, Radiolab out of NYC.

While we often think of our memory as file cabinet and when we want to retrieve a memory we just go into the drawer and pull it out. Through experiments scientist have concluded that this file cabinet view is wrong and in actuality each time we remember something we create a new memory, so the more we think about something the less it is like what actually happened.

So what does this have to do with US history in film? Consider Birth of a Nation, a movie about slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction. Knowing the majority of US citizens go to the theater at this point in history, while they watch the movie they are forced to think about the time period. In thinking about that memory, either from what was learned or actual memories from the time, they are recreating it. So their memory is being slightly skewed towards what the film has presented.

Historical films force us to think about history (duh) and with that the memories of what we have learned about or experience during the time period. Knowing visual and audio leave a lasting impression on us and that we create new memories every time we remember, watching films can change (without us even realizing it) the way we view historical events.

August 29th, 1852

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I’ve blogged about This Date, From Henry David Thoreau’s Journal blog before on my other blog, but I enjoyed todays entry so much I had to share it with the UMW community.

We boast that we belong to the Nineteenth Century, and are making the most rapid strides of any nation. But consider how little this village does for its own culture. We have a comparatively decent system of common schools, schools for infants only, as it were, but, excepting the half-starved Lyceum in the winter, no school for ourselves. It is time that we had uncommon schools, that we did not leave off our education when we begin to be men.

Funny how some things haven’t changed in the 150 years since Thoreau wrote those words. I also could not help but connect it to Barbara Ganley, who is exploring the idea of “uncommon schools” as we speak.

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

This semester I am also in a US History in Film class and in it we have to create an original online research project analyzing a particular film.

I’ve chosen the Grapes of Wrath and while I already know the Reverend has put some mighty fine clips of the film up on his blog awhile ago my brain usually runs off in a different direction.

So until I have something more substantial to say here is Bruce Springsteen’s ode to the films protagonist, “The Ghost of Tom Joad”

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Faulkner & Morrison

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

(image from cultural logic)

I am currently taking a course on William Faulkner and Toni Morrison and after the first class and doing some readings I am really excited for the class to get going.

I freely admit to being ignorant about souther writers although I have read a few novels by both Faulkner and Morrison. Being from the North attempting to understand the Southern mentality has always been like wandering into an unknown territory. Never quite sure what to expect.

Some of the first readings we have to do are Faulkner & Morrison’s acceptance speeches for the Nobel prize. Mary-Kathryn, who is also in the class, sent me a message with a link to some audio of Faulkner reading. Included on that site is the audio of the Nobel prize speech. Never having heard Faulkner’s voice before a jolt of excitement went through me as I heard him, southern twang and all, deliver the speech. In an instant Faulkner became real to me and his narrative is one of a new friend who I long to get to know. Oh yes, this will be a good seminar.

Download Faulkner’s Nobel Prize Speech

New Law

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Another school year at Mary Wash.
I have mixed feelings of excitement, nervousness, optimism, and cynicism.

So as promised when I started this blog, cheesy song lyrics for my current cynicism:

Derek Webb – A New Law

“Don’t teach me about politics and government,
just tell me who to vote for.
Don’t teach me about truth and beauty,
just label my music.

Don’t teach me how to live like a free man,
just give me a new law.

I don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me.”

Fighting against the daily grind of automated student activity.