Thursday, September 27, 2012

Literary Review of Canada: "Tight Boots and War Crimes - A year's reflection on the War of 1812 in, in public and private."

I've very much appreciated a recent article in the October edition Literary Review of Canada by archivist and historian Dennis Duffy. He calls for a middle ground in viewing history on an individual and empathetic perspective and the master-narrative. I see it as a call for a balance of larger contextual master-narrative history's (perhaps tied into national building etc.) with the more personal post-modern(esque) individual and ground level perspective so familiar today in our museums, tv shows and movies. He bases his reflections on the recent War of 1812 'celebrations' taking part across the country and he cites the Fort York exhibition, 'The Encampment" as an example of the need to place individuals history within the larger contextual narrative. He ends, "...I want them both, the quiet contemplation [ground level singular history] and the ruffles and flourishes [larger contextual master-narratives]. Because however inadequate, they are all devices by which we attempt to get some sort of purchase on a past too remote to recall but too important to disregard."I believe he's calling for a grounding of our personal perspectives about individual and ground level history (he names it as 'conceptual realizations' of history) within the larger context...

"At the same time that you are seeking out a sense of the nature and deeds of an individual swept up in the tsunami of disruption, you are also trying to chart the path of that giant wave."

Jack Granatstein, et al., eat your heart out :)

Duffy, Dennis. "Tight Boots and War Crimes - A year's reflection on the War of 1812 in, in public and private." Literary Review of Canada, Vol. 20.8, October 2012, pp. 3-4.
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