Looking at the calendar today, I realized I’ve got a little under a month to finalize the readings for an interdisciplinary honors seminar I’m teaching next term. Begin panic mode… now.
A Thanksgiving Week Bleg
The course is called “Historical Fictions and Fiction as History” and is meant to introduce students to the phenomenon of historical fabrication–that is to say, making crap up and calling it history. We’re going to begin with Geoffrey of Monmouth, some reactions to him, including the various accounts of how England got its name (Hengist’s land, Angle Land, Ing’s Land, Ingerne’s Land, etc.), and a few other select texts from the Trojan legendary. Then we’ll be moving on to Holinshed’s Chronicle and Macbeth. In later weeks we’ll read about the Donation of Constantine and its debunking, a bit from the Reagan biography Dutch , some of Hemingway’s short stories of the Spanish Civil War and his newspaper columns about the same, and Misha, the recently discredited memoir of a Holocaust survivor raised by wolves.
If the readings so far seem like they’re all over the map, that’s by design. One of the questions the course will attempt to get students to wrestle with is how the genre-divisions between things like history, biography, and creative nonfiction get drawn. Other questions will include what it means for a history to be accurate, the difference between revisionism and due dilligence, and what obligation we have to the dead to get them right.
Now that I sit down and try to plan out the class discussions week-by-week, I realize that I’ve got about four weeks left to play with. So, um, anyone got any suggestions for things to read? Anyone have a favorite now-debunked historical account they’d care to share?
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