Practice of Historical Imagination
3 pages – Chicago style references
A Madonna of the Great Plains, by National Geographic Magazine, Volume 31 (1917), page 554., Public Domain.
The goal of this Written Assignment is to learn a little about the practice of historical imagination. Historical Studies state that one of the basic competencies of Historical Studies is “an understanding of history as a creative art, a subjective discipline and an imaginative interpretation of the past.” Historical imagination, according to the 20th century historian and philosopher R.G. Collinwood, is a means by which scholars of history use imagination to reconstruct ideas, concepts, and narratives based on what is known about what really happened and what was thought. Historical imagination is not fiction. It must be localized to real places and it must be related to evidence gathered from historic sources.
For this module’s Written Assignment, review Lynn Lemisko’s The Historical Imagination: Collingwood in the Classroom. Then please select one of the three options to write about. Option #1: Role Swap
For this assignment, please examine the primary source documents in chapters 2-3 of Through Women’s Eyes. You will do a role-playing exercise about women in colonial families. As you know from your readings, there were at least three different kinds of families in Colonial America: Native American families, slave families and English/European families. In this assignment you:
Imagine a role-swap situation where one woman temporarily changes places with a woman from another kind of family. You may be a white colonial woman, a slave woman or a Native American woman. Be sure to explain your answers using the information from Through Women’s Eyes, as well as the Internet resources included in this module for sources.
In the first part of your essay, describe your daily life before the swap.
Where you live
What kind of family you have
How you relate to your husband, your children and your community.
In the second part of your essay, describe the changes that took place during the swap.
Start with the reasons for the swap. Don’t just assume that it happened.
How are the women in your new culture treated by the men in their families?
What new roles and expectations do you have?
How is your daily life different from the one you were accustomed to?
In the third part of your essay, describe the learning you took back to your own family after the swap.
What would you tell your family about your experience with the other culture?
For this assignment, please examine the material in the Content Guides for this module as well as our text Through Women’s Eyes, particularly, The Letters and the Depictions of “Family” in Colonial America in the chapter 2 primary sources section. After you have done so:
Imagine yourself to be a woman of the 17th or 18th century tasked with the job of maintaining a household.
Write an essay detailing your responsibilities for one calendar year.
Include a household budget and a list of necessary food items.
Option #3: Analyzing historical documents
For this assignment, please examine the Content Guides for this module as well as the analysis offered by DuBois and Dumenil in their introductory comments on the challenges of documenting women’s history. After you have done so, please choose one of the M1 Optional Online Resources and:
Analyze how you would use the concept of historical imagination to craft a narrative about the materials presented [for example, on the Jamestown settlement, or on the Mayflower voyage, or on Martha Washington’s or Martha Ballard’s life]. Be sure to specify which M1 Optional Online Resources you have chosen to analyze.
Collingwood, R.G. “The Historical Imagination”, in The Idea of History. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1946), pp. 232-249.
Lemisko, Lynn Speer. “The Historical Imagination: Collingwood in the Classroom.” Canadian Social Studies 38, no. 2 (December 1, 2004): ERIC, EB