Written history; using written words to capture time, place, and people; telling our stories many ways
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.”Emily Dickinson
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”George Orwell
We are used to thinking of history being conveyed in text books and essays. This session focuses on other ways words can capture and convey historical knowledge, and also on how the words we read/hear/write/speak shape our ideas.
- What are some of the many ways we learn history from written documents of all kinds?
- What are some of the many ways we use words to record and express historical knowledge?
- How can we be critical consumers of the written word?
- How can we write engaging accounts of our own stories?
- Lucy Terry Prince – Poems by the Famous Poet – All Poetry
- Search results for Historical Poems, Available Online | Library of Congress (loc.gov)
- Search results for Historical Songs, Available Online | Library of Congress (loc.gov)
Project Suggestions and Ways to Practice
- Describe a place you have visited or an event you have been part of using sensory images.
- Write a postcard or letter to the future (an imagined person, yourself at a future date, or simply to whomever will be alive at that point) about something going on today, large or small, that matters to you.
- Search YouTube and/or The Library of Congress for songs with historical content. Dig a little deeper to learn more about the events they record. See if you can find a contrasting song about the same event. For example, compare and contrast “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier” and “Over There,” both from the WWI era.
- Search the internet and/or The Library of Congress for poems with historical content. Lucy Terry Prince’s poem is one example (see link) from our region. As you read a poem, consider what questions it brings up for you about the historical event it references.
- Try your hand at writing a poem or composing a song lyric that captures an historical or present event that you feel strongly about.
- Write a vignette, a short scene, from your own history that captures something important about the time in which it is set.