Reading Response

Historical Awareness and the Use of History

Historical awareness is more than knowing what happened in the past, it is about being able to separate the falsehoods from fact. This can be tricky when certain moments are accepted as fact or the collective memory is distorted over time. This type of memory is known as the ‘social memory’, it is more narrative than fact and one that is passed down from generations before. Social memory can include speech, television, books, and music. Though these can sometimes not be true, the importance of social memory is no less than another. Difference, context,and process are three fundamental aspects of historical awareness. Difference is the historian noticing the differences in age and time between then and now. Context is realizing the difference and taking that into account for the actions and thoughts of the past. Process is the relationship between these moments. Recurring features of social memory are tradition, propaganda, and progress. Tradition in history can be used to show and demand respect. With tradition though, it relates to nostalgia and a want for a past that you did not live. And being against change. Propaganda stands against progress because it can be used to stop progress and encourage tradition.

Everything can be learned from history because it is the written knowledge and memories of the past. Many look towards the past for answers and advice on making decisions in the present. For some, nothing can be learned from history because it did happen in the past and any decisions made then only are effective for that time and does not take into account the changing time and ideas of different ages.

Historical Awareness

Uses of History