History Extension

OK.  These are the key enquiry questions in Extension History.  Your exam questions, no matter how varied, will revolve around one of these enquiry questions.  In this blog post, I will go over them within the context of Question 1.  This is the ‘What is History?’ section.

1) Who are the historians?

This question is often rephrased as

  • What should be the role of historians?  OR
  • Evaluate the role of historians (in the construction of history)?
  • ‘In order to understand history, we must study the historians.’  Evaluate this statement.

2) What are the purposes of history?

Other ways of rephrasing this question would be, for example,

  • For what ultimate purpose(s) should history be written for?  Should it be …
    • To reveal or interpret the past as accurately and authentically as possible?
    • To provide a solid basis upon which communities or individuals can build their identities?
    • To challenge unjust systems, whether it be capitalism, colonialism or the patriarchy?
    • For ‘entertainment’?
  • You shouldn’t be describing, but show the ability to evaluate the problem with each supposed purpose of history.

3) How has constructions of history changed over time?

It can also be phrased as

  • Why has constructions of history changed over time?
  • Think about things like
    • History as a narrative (Rankian, most common)
    • History as films
    • History as social science analysis
    • History as monuments
    • History as oral history

4) Why have approaches/interpretations to history changed over time?

The key focus here is to link it the context of the particular interpretation.

For example,

  • Reeves came after the Camelot historians, and was growing disillusioned with America’s war in Vietnam, like many other Americans of his time.
  • Herodotus wrote his work in the shadow of Homer.
  • Tacitus wrote his work in the context of imperial excesses of the emperor and the impotence of the Senate.