White Washing in Movies — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By Summer Berry

Every day we see different movies being announced and released for a wide market. However, we all see certain movies made that are based form Greek and Egyptian Mythology that casts a white majority cast: Gods of Egypt, and Clash/Wrath of the Titans are two examples.

Though I am personally a fan of Greek Mythology and the attention to detail that was put into the Clash of the Titan films, most of the cast is either American or British. I’m a big fan of movies like this but it truly gets on my nerves that films that are created in the Mediterranean or even somewhere in the middle east would cast of mostly white actors to be in the film,

There are also a lot of Asian movies that have been white washed as well though not being as popular in the states as movies like Gods of Egypt. Movies that center around religion aren’t safe from this practice either. They are set in the Middle East and none of their actors are from there. Who’s the main lead inNoah? Russell Crowe. Then you’ve got The Passion of the Christ, not only depicting the treatment of Jesus from the bible but also the way people may have lived during the time he had lived. Though most of the cast was not Middle Eastern as it should have been to maintain a perfect representation of the culture.

The Lone Ranger comes under major criticism as well since Johnny Depp played Tonto, the Native American character, in the film. Like many people Depp is a very talented actor, but he is not a Native American and his portrayal may be offensive to Native Americans that see the film. Though at the time that the original Lone Ranger TV show was made, I highly doubt that anyone was concerned about having the race or ethnicity of the characters perfect, however we have the chance now to change that. To take the idea of all of us being separated by the way we look: our hair color, skin color, ethnic background.

The only films that aren’t white washed would be those that deal primarily with the kings and queens of Europe. Films like Elizabethand Shakespeare In Love, having the queen being depicted as accurately as possible for the time that those films should be set in. This would be culturally accurate and most of the rulers from both France and England were white. However, we do not usually see them having any servants or handmaids that are colored, Indian or what other. We have the power now to make films that could accurately reflect what may have happened in certain time periods. Not only with the stories that they can tell but also with those we hire to portray such people. Be it a woman to play an Amazonian warrior, or a man from the Mediterranean to portray Zeus in the next Clash of the Titans movie. We can make this change, but I ask you, why haven’t we?

Citations:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-ten-worst-examples-of-whitewashing-from-the-last-fi-1749960081

https://public.wsu.edu/~delahoyd/mythology/mythfilm.html

via White Washing in Movies — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Meet MMM: Trish Biers — Mors Mortis Museum

More about Mors Mortis Museum this week! Read more about my amazing co-conspirator in all things death, museums, and human remains – Dr. Trish Biers!

I remember the night so vividly, my father and I stood behind a burgundy velvet rope waiting to go into the cinema. I didn’t know what to expect, it was quite a grown-up movie for me and the excitement around opening night was a big deal for a little girl. Seeing Raiders of the Lost […]

via Meet MMM: Trish Biers — Mors Mortis Museum

Video Games as Public History — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By Sean Butler

It has recently been through modern movies, television, art, music and the Internet that has lead society to create an expanding narrative for telling history and that is through video games. Video games have over the years become so ingrained in society that journalist Martha Irvine wrote in 2008, “in a survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project ninety-seven percent of young respondents play video games.”[1]

 

Those numbers would be even higher today as many age groups have become more exposed to video games in the case of Fortnite: Battle Royale played by nearly 80 million people in the month of August alone in 2018.[2]

While, history is not a primary concern in Fortnite what is does start to signify is culturally younger groups are looking to new ways to socialize and become interacted with other cultures around the world. These shifting interests is what has led to a constant battling among developers to create newer more interactive video games.

A newer generation of video games is focused on the open-world concept letting players create and experience environments at their own pace. The best way to see this new open-world concept is in the latest Assassins Creed: Odyssey video game. Inside the game a player can experience the visually stunning landscape and hypothetical story of King Leonidas’s grandchildren and immerse themselves into a more historically accurate game based during the Peloponnesian War 431 to 404 B.C.E.[3]Audiences for this game have a greater opportunity to see what life was like in the ancient world and to learn through interactive gameplay the history of places, people, events and religious ideologies in Ancient Greece . What also, sets this game apart in a historical context from the rest is through the game it is the first time in this franchise’s history that you can experience the same story, but through either the perspectives of a man or woman. This is a scenario in which traditional history telling has fallen short as women throughout time have not been given a clear and equal voice.

While video games are becoming more historically relevant to general audiences. The next step is being able to teach history in a classroom setting through video games where culturally outside so many minds have already been immersed into video game life. This is a concept being taught by A. Martin Wainwright in his article, “Teaching Historical Theory through Video Games,” in which, he talks about portraying many issues in history through the lenses of historical video games like Sid Meier’s Civilization IV. [4]Fundamentally video games are enjoyed by millions and has the potential to reenergize the boorish methods for teaching history.

[1]Martha Irvine, “Survey: Nearly Every American Kid Plays Video Games,” ABC News, September 17, 2008, https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=5817835&page=1.

[2]Ben Gilbert, “‘Fortnite’ Just Had Its Biggest Month Ever, with Nearly 80 Million People Playing in August,” Business Insider, September 21, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/how-many-people-play-fortnite-stats-2018-2018-9.

[3]Paul Tassi, “Here’s Why There Are No Assassins In ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,’” Forbes, June 12, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2018/06/12/heres-why-there-are-no-assassins-in-assassins-creed-odyssey/.

[4]A. Martin Wainwright, “Teaching Historical Theory through Video Games,” The History Teacher47, no. 4 (2014): 579–612.

via Video Games as Public History — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Meet MMM: Katie Clary — Mors Mortis Museum

Hey, it’s me! Read more about my work with Trish Biers and Mors Mortis Museum here. How did I get into death studies? What are my research goals? Maybe this blog will answer some of those questions. MMM has some great things coming up, and we are excited to get together again in the UK this fall at the Association for Death and Society conference at University of Bath.

This post introduces MMM co-founder Dr. Katie Clary and her entry into death studies as a museum professional. Be on the lookout for more blogs from Dr. Clary and Dr. Biers this summer! In 2015 I was on the job market after leaving a position of Executive Director of a Historic House Museum in Tennessee, USA. […]

via Meet MMM: Katie Clary — Mors Mortis Museum

A History Nerd Changes a Non-Believer in Charleston, South Carolina — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By Triona Fihaley

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 was a day unlike any other: this was a day that I went to Charleston, South Carolina with a mission. That mission in question was to turn my roommate, who finds history to be one the most boring subjects, into a woman who finds it interesting.

Read more via A History Nerd Changes a Non-Believer in Charleston, South Carolina — CCU Public History Fall 2018

The Palmetto State’s Gem — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By John Hagelin

In 2008 my family and I moved to Charleston, South Carolina and I have been in love with the city ever since. When I was in eighth grade, I had to take a South Carolina history course just like everyone else in my school. I had no interest in history at all, and it had always been my worst subject in school and was the cause for many headaches. Like many kids my age, I was focused on two things when I walked into school every day, those two things were lunch and recess. After a few weeks of taking this course, I realized that I lived in one of the richest cities in America (in a historical sense). In this course, my teacher told us a countless number of times that South Carolina was one of the most troublesome states in the union. Since it was founded as one of the original thirteen colonies, South Carolina has been an economic powerhouse and for an extended period was the United States agricultural backbone.

Since its founding in 1670, South Carolina has been in the middle of some very important American Historical events. For instance, it was the epicenter for the world’s rice production and other agriculture for several decades, it split the country in two when it seceded from the nation in 1861, it is home to the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, also holds some of the most traumatic militaristic events in US history. For instance, a good majority of the state burned to the ground in 1861 and its rebuild made it one of the most beautiful places in the entire civilized world.

Charleston is full of plenty opportunities for public history, for instance, there are horse and buggy tours that run daily, and describe the history of the great city. The city is also home to the famous Rainbow Row, which is an assortment of homes all next to one another and are all painted to look like a rainbow and can be traced back to the early nineteenth century.

You can also find the Historic Charleston City Market, which for decades served as one of the biggest slave ports/trading ports in all of America. The area around and in Charleston for many years was used for agriculture, to this date you can still see the outlines of a majority of different plantation systems in this area. These are just a few different historical landmarks that the city of Charleston has to offer, this is not counting the vast number of different monuments that are spread all over the city. In conclusion, the city of Charleston has been, and continues to be one of the most historically rich cities in all of America. It also offers a good range of different historical opportunities for the public to participate in, which helps the city gain more money for preservation and helps to inform the public on how historic the city really is.

via The Palmetto State’s Gem — CCU Public History Fall 2018

“It was so worth the stairs…” — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By Kira Hamilton

Since before I can even remember, my dad – who raised me to appreciate and love history, traveling, and nature as much as himself – had always gone on a white-water-rafting trip in West Virginia with his best friend aka my “uncle” Randy. He hasn’t been on a rafting trip since my younger sister was born, but he always talks about those trips just like old people talk about “the good ol’ days.”


I had always seen the kick-ass pictures and videos of my dad rafting (and also not-so kick ass pictures of people pulling him back in the boat after falling in the water…) and I had always heard the stories that my dad always told about the rafting trails, the waterfalls, the breath-taking sceneries, and of course, the famous bridge day. Bridge day Takes place in Fayetteville, West Virginia and it might as well be as big a holiday as Christmas. It is an annual festival that takes place every third Saturday in October where people from all over the country travel to parachute, bungie jump, and do other unthinkable activities off of The New River Gorge Bridge. The New River Gorge Bridge is “the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States.” And let me tell you…that sucker is no joke!

This story starts post-hurricane Florence when my eldest sister, Elizabeth, was getting married on September twentieth of this year (2018). And so – come hell or high water (literally) – my dad, my younger sister, Emma, and myself all packed up and headed to West Virginia (where my sister currently resides) to attend the wedding, praying that our travel arrangements would not resort to any detours due to flooded roads, and road closures. Fortunately, we never ran into any of those obstacles.

While on the road, my dad suggested that we make a couple of stops in North Carolina to see the mountains, and then he suggested that we stop at the New River Gorge Bridge. Little did I know that this was the very bridge in which the famous stories about Bridge Day that my dad had always told me about took place. After about ten hours into our trip we finally approached the bridge. We proceeded to park at the visitors’ center and make our way to the “look-out” where people are able to view the bridge at a safe distance (away from the road).

OH MY STAIRS! Boy, was it a pain in the you-know-what to get there! I swear there was about 15 flights of stairs leading down to the viewing point. However, when I finally reached the final platform, my breath was taken and I was speechless. I was moved to tears by how beautiful the scenery was, but also because I was finally able to see and experience what my dad had been telling me about since I was a little girl. I know, I’m a sap but, honestly, it was truly amazing how my dad’s oral (hi)stories translated so effortlessly into the real-life depiction of the New River Gorge, in which he would white-water raft in, and the bridge that he always talked about.

Works Cited

“Info.” Bridge Day, officialbridgeday.com/bridge-day-info/.

McLaughlin, Louise. “New River Gorge Bridge.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, http://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/nrgbridge.htm

via “It was so worth the stairs…” — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Infographic Syllabi: Fun, Easy (no really!), and Engaging

A poster I whipped up in Canva to advertise a new class

Last fall we had a natural disaster that shut down our school for almost the entire month of September. I did not step foot on campus for the entire month, since for part of it I was in England for DaCNet and research. Once the immediate danger of Hurricane Florence was past us, the real waiting began for flood waters that creeped up and up into our town and over our roads for weeks after. Obviously, this was totally nerve-wracking, and I was unable to focus on any heavy research or writing, because I was constantly refreshing the NOAA flood table charts.

I decided to do something a bit more fun, relaxing (to me), and creative instead: I turned my Spring semester syllabi into info graphs. I had wanted to do this for a while and wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it, so I headed to the Google. I found this article, and this, which gave some overall tips and ideas. I am most familiar with the website Canva, so that is what I decided to use for this project. I started with a completely blank page on Canva, and just added the elements as I needed them.

Canva is great for making posters to advertise your classes online or in print, social media images to advertise conferences or workshops, syllabi, documents, resumes, whatever you want to design. It is also incredibly use friendly with drag and drop functions. You can download as PDFs, JPGs, PNGs, and more. I plan to use the syllabi I have already made in the future, and copy them to make a new document, to update and change information easily. To get started, open canva in your browser and create an account.

Now, I know the syllabus is the contract the drives the semester and needs to have all the pertinent information for a successful semester. We want to get every rule, regulation, policy, and code in there to avoid any issues we have had in the past. This leads to syllabus creep, and eventually a 14 page document of blocks and blocks of texts that I don’t want to revise every semester, and students certainly don’t want to read each semester. Paring things down was hard, but I managed to go from 6 pages of text, to 3 pages of syllabus, with a supplemental calendar on another page, and for my upper division class, a packet of readings information. I also make extensive use of our online platform, Moodle, which made paring the syllabus down a lot easier, too. In the digital version of the syllabus, you can also embed links, so students can easily access the full text of an attendance policy or find information about counseling or health services, or the writing and tutoring centers (also linked on Moodle).

Ok, so how did I actually do this? Basically I opened Canva, opened a new document, and just started dragging elements around to where I needed them. I knew I had to have the course description and SLOs per university rules, and I wanted my contact information to be easily accessible for students to find. Once I had those in place, I focused on what else I thought would be the most important: how they earn their grades, course requirements, and rules/policies (condensed and pared down). I think my favorite part is the academic misconduct section, with the little skull and cross bones. Canva also has charts you can insert that will do percentages and labels, for grading or other charts you want to include.

Within canva I was also able to create an “icon” of sorts for each class, based on the themes in that class. For the museums class, I used a museum emoji with a bunch of people, for Museums and Communities. For Great Debates in Public History, I chose icons that represented our topics: a mummy, historic buildings, and a park ranger.  The icons are on each page of the syllabus along with the course name, and one cool thing about these graphics is I was able to take the icons I made for each class and use on other platforms, like our Slack page, or for different sections of moodle for a “branding” technique. This way the class was always recognizable, even across the different websites we use.

Canva has a lot of icons to choose from in the free version, like the skull and crossbones and the museum; however, you can also upload any icons or images you have downloaded on your own device to use within the program. All of the circles, starbursts, boxes, and so on are available in the sidebar of the program.

My favorite page – POLICIES!! Just look at those sweet little skulls showing the doom that awaits plagiarizers.

I taught this style of syllabus design recently at a CeTeal professional development workshop on my campus, and some of the instructors there have really run with it! One of the theater professors is planning to make hers as a Playbill, for instance, and a literature syllabus could be designed as an old book. A geography or map class could be done in a series of maps… the possibilities are endless, really. Maybe in the future I will redesign my museum one to look like an exhibit in a room! The most important thing is to be creative and have fun.

I did not do any kind of official assessment on use of the syllabus this past semester, but it did seem that students asked less questions that were answered on the syllabus. I’m sticking with it, and will post my fall syllabi at the end of summer!

 

André 3000 and Ment Nelson: Case Studies in Shared Authority and Public History in Southern Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

by N. Valerie McLaurin

At the Source Awards in New York City in 1995, Southern rap duo Outkast took the stage to accept their award for New Artist of the Year (Group). Met with boos from the Northern audience, André 3000, half of the now iconic duo, appeared unphased and informed the crowd that whether or not the greater hip-hop community wanted to accept it: “The South got somethin’ to say.” This prophetic moment from my childhood came to mind when I started thinking more deeply about the definition of public history.

Image Course: CNN

As a young person aware of the criticisms and stigma attached to identifying as Southern, hearing André 3000 express that the Southern US has a story to tell the rest of the world, and that whether or not that message is immediately recognized as valuable has no bearing on its inherent importance, would stick with me for the rest of my life. Later, the concept of “shared authority” that I learned in my Intro to Public History class reiterated the gut feeling I got from André 3000’s speech. In the rap community, and in the realm of academic history, there are gatekeepers. But this does not take away from the fact that those on the “outside” should also be listened to, respected, and recognized for owning their own histories and their own experiences.

Image Source: Instagram: MentNelson

In “Defining Public History: Is it Possible? Is it Necessary?” Robert Weible grapples with the various definitions of what exactly “public history” means. He writes, “when all is said and done, public history may even be like jazz or pornography: easier to describe than define, and you know it when you hear it or see it.” He goes on to write that “the discipline’s practitioners are educators who neither deny their expertise nor keep it to themselves.” To me, this definition is reminiscent of André 3000’s proclamation at the Source Awards. He was an expert in his own lived experience as a Southerner and asserted that, and as a musician he shared his narrative storytelling perspective on Southern life with whoever picked up a copy of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.

There are many nuanced stereotypes that follow Southerners, like being less formally educated and living a slower (often interpreted as duller) pace of life. Public history helps us to navigate such clichés, because it breaks through the barriers of formal academia and opens the doors of historical knowledge and knowledge production to the greater public. This brings me to the next artist I would like to discuss from the South, Ment Nelson.

Nelson was born and raised in South Carolina and was even a hip-hop artist himself before he began to focus on visual art through drawings and paintings. His art is sometimes realistic and sometimes abstract, but always inspired by his Lowcountry surroundings that hold generations of history and imagery. Arguably his most iconic piece of art is taken from an illustration of his grandmother fishing, which has been made into hatsthat are often sold out on his website. His simple Twitter bio echoes a sentiment that André 3000 established decades ago: “I make it cool to be from South Carolina.”

Both André 3000 and Ment Nelson are self-taught artists, and in the spirit of shared authority, public historians in their own right. They both identify and claim their self-taught/learned expertise over the history that surrounds them and share their unique interpretations and perspectives rooted in Southern culture with the world, and we are all better for it.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJu40C0vE3g

https://kulturehub.com/tbt-1995-source-awards/

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/andre-3000-said-the-south-got-something-to-say-aque-1829402260
Lyon, Cherstin, Nix, Elizabeth, and Shrum, Rebecca. Introduction to Public History: Interpreting the Past, Engaging Audiences. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/march-2008/defining-public-history-is-it-possible-is-it-necessary

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/straight-out-of-varnville-artist-ment-nelson-makes-it-cool/article_ea4b7268-44a2-11e8-a529-8f6d6876e0ff.html

https://www.thestate.com/entertainment/article221835760.html

https://twitter.com/mentnelson

http://www.mentnelson.com

via André 3000 and Ment Nelson: Case Studies in Shared Authority and Public History in Southern Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Pseudoarchaeology and History in Media: The Danger of Inaccuracy in Pop Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information. 

By Sydney James

Channels such as the Travel Channel and the History Channel are notorious for creating shows that appear to be historical in nature, but are often filled with inaccuracies for the purpose of raising public interest and viewer counts. These shows include some form of historical or archaeological background, an amateur “expert” in the field, a celebrity for show, and a whole lot of wild speculation. For good measure, some wandering through the woods or crawling through “undiscovered” tunnels is included. Magic or aliens are probably mentioned somewhere as well. (For more laughable but infuriating examples, give@DSAArchaeologya follow on Twitter – he talks about this quite a bit!)

This, of course, raises an important question: why are television shows so insistent on spinning archaeological and historical fact into wildly inaccurate tales? Is it because archaeology or history are not interesting enough on their own (obviously false)? Could it be that people are skeptical when it comes to believing in science and reason? Were ancient civilizations really incapable of creating megalithic structures without the help of extraterrestrial beings (probably not)? Most likely, maybe these media forms find it necessary to alter the facts to gain more viewers?

Whatever the reason, pseudoarchaeology has been detrimental to how much of the general public views the history of ancient civilizations. (For these purposes, wikipedia actually provides a great definition of the term – “Pseudoarchaeology- also known as alternative archaeology, fringe archaeology, fantastic archaeology, or cult archaeology – refers to interpretations of the past from outside of the archaeological science community, which reject the accepted data gathering and analytical methods of the discipline.”)[1]Some of the more popular claims, for example, are blatantly racist. As an example, we can look at Ancient Aliens (a show on the “History” Channel). This show looks most primarily at large scale structures erected by the ancient Egyptians or Mayans, for example. The show claims that because we do not know how structures such as the pyramids were built, alien beings must have been involved in the creation of these monuments. In a recent article[2], Sarah Bond (@SarahEBond) talks more in detail about the shows racist implications, discussing how people have gone so far as to remove parts of Khufu’s pyramid in an attempt to validate their claims of alien origins.

Not only does this discount the accomplishments of these civilizations, the focus of the show on regions of minority ancestry also paints a picture that depicts ancient people of color as incompetent and incapable of applying science or mathematics to their architecture. And, as Bond points out, it is not the British that stand to lose anything in these claims – rather, it is non-European cultures that are subject to have their abilities questioned as a result.

Despite this, people continue to consume television that feeds into wild fantasies about magic, aliens, folklore, spirits, and so on. More often than not, some of these shows are based on the fears and legends that have appeared throughout time. More people believe in the extraterrestrial and paranormal than one might initially think, and feeding into those beliefs is a sure way to make profits. Of course, it is not surprising that people are fascinated by that sort of subject matter. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones are all classic examples of extremely popular stories that involve fantasy to capture and mesmerize an audience. The issue here is not with fantasy itself – on its own, fantasy can be an excellent break from reality. The issue is when these beliefs are spun into historical and archaeological fact, where the twisting of history demeans ancient civilizations and peoples and provides an unknowing public with false information – information which then spreads rapidly and becomes a regular part of public understanding.

[1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoarchaeology

[2]Bond, S. E. (2018, November 13). Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens. https://hyperallergic.com/470795/pseudoarchaeology-and-the-racism-behind-ancient-aliens/

via Pseudoarchaeology and History in Media: The Danger of Inaccuracy in Pop Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018