History and Memory; the 50th Gate

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Introductory discussion “Rethinking the past” is a seminar that explores history and memory with the aim to assist secondary students studying Advanced English for the HSC. To enhance understanding I propose a detailed analysis of three texts to consolidate this concept. As it stands, history is an objective entity that indicates the chronological events that are recognised to be fact. Often dehumanising an event through its attempt to be impartial, history can be deemed as the vision of the past that is conveyed to be contextually resonant. However, the version in which human experience is perceived is shaped by memories - defined as an individual’s ability to recall past sensations, experiences and knowledge - which has the ability to illuminate and emphasise certain truths of the past. As separate entities, history and memory often present their flaws, so, it is the intersection of history and memory that allow a responder to gain an empathetic vision of the past which acknowledges an individual’s personal experience of the events. These concepts can be explored to further a student’s knowledge with supporting texts that reiterate the central ideas. One such text focusing on the above concepts is the nonfiction text The Fiftieth Gate where composer, Mark Baker, conveys the continual tension between the subjectivity of his’ parent’s memories and the objectivity of the historians’ reliance on archival evidence. Baker further conveys that the reconciling of such aspects can enlighten a reliable vision of the past. Similarly, the imperfections associated with establishing a truthful, objective account of past historical events, relying on a single entity of ‘memory’ or ‘history’ is furthered in the Feature Article Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanjing. BBC comment on the inadequacy of historical factuality and the potential of personal bias to distort memories,
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