Wednesday, May 16, 2012

History as People & Interactions

One way of looking at history is to focus on events. Things that happened. Another take on history is to study great men and women to learn from their lives. One way to view this method is to think of history as a series of character arcs, from whatever early man you can find records of to whoever the most powerful, important person is at your time. This doesn't have to be in a political sense, or a military sense. If you want to study the history of technology, you may go from someone like Eli Whitney to Steve Jobs. This view of history is about humanizing it to understand it.

This methodology lets you look closely at someone. This is the method that brought John Adams back to light as something more than Mr. Feeny in a musical. You get to pore through letters, diaries and get a more complete understanding of a single person. If you pick someone, you can even get insight into specific historical events. For example, the increased interest in Adams has brought quite a lot of scholarship to his life.

Biographies and autobiographies are one of the books that bridge two of our themes: history and myth. One problem with biographies, is that some err more into a hagiography than biography. My English senior paper was focused on the autobiography "Exit, Pursued By a Bear." While you know you are getting a narrator who may not be reliable, you get a story. Memoirs can be guilty of this too, as they tend to focus less on a whole life's efforts.

Character driven stories are things we're fairly familiar with. Most fables and children's stories are driven by a character. That's how we like to see our lives, that we are a main character navigating the world. Our individual histories we measure in land marks. For example, most people will know where they were on Sept. 11. Which is the best example I have on how biography ties tightly into history, individuals are, in part, a reflection of the world they live in.

When individuals interact, we get flashpoints. The Lincoln-Douglas debates, the JFK assassination, wherever you have people interacting, we have an opportunity for history to develop. The Million Man March is more than just a historical event; it is the collection of individuals who united for a common cause. One way to define plot is when characters interact, which while limited, is a good start. History, in a way, is when two (or more) people interact.

You can't have the events without the people who drive and influence them, and so, history is people and interactions.



Here is the updated Write d20 list! I feel this was a bit rambling.

1. Everyday heroes as PCs
2. Why writing comic books is hard
3. Why comedy is harder than drama
4. Making magic magical
5. Post a link to a short story; describe the writing and editing process
6. Playing ethical villains
7. Play a random song on Pandora; write a short fiction piece using lyrics from the song.
8. Making fantasy travel fantastic
9. Unity of purpose (in writing fiction)
10. Unity of purpose (in designing table top adventures)
11. Applying history to your table top adventures
12. Popular history is still history
13. Using history in other disciplines
14. History, as people and interactions
15. History, as movements and reactions
16. Living History: What Our Memoirs May Look Like
17. Why modern politics is not history (Yet!)
18. Historical perspective: the Internet
19. Why I studied history: True stories are important
20. Living history

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