The History Thread Page 6

  • Page

    of 10 First / Last

  • Deleted user 8 March 2013 17:04:53
    May not strictly be a history question in itself, but I'm curious as to the actual mechanisms of cultural change. Random example - studying American literature at the moment, and it's fairly clear that the literature itself closely follows the evolution of culture in the States - like when isolationism was at its peak, writers of the time demanded a uniquely American literature, free from the influences and aesthetics of any other nations. Then as isolationism began to fall, so too did outside influences eke into the literature trends.

    Likewise, the literature also follows other trends, like the rise of socialism in the late 19th/early 20th century, the creation of unions, anti-war trends, rise of capitalism and economic theories etc etc. My question really is, speaking globally, do you think social forces work on cultural forces, cultural forces on social, or do they both reinforce each other simultaneously?
  • andytheadequate 8 Mar 2013 17:13:39 8,081 posts
    Seen 21 minutes ago
    Registered 4 years ago
    I imagine culture follows social changes. For example, the rise of socialism was due to the increase in the urban proletariat, poverty and industrialisation. Dickens is an obvious example of an author writing about these themes, although I believe Disraeli also wrote a novel along similar lines.

    Of course, literature and general cultural factors can als reinforce this change
  • RedSparrows 2 Jul 2013 17:18:33 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Meme, your question is a very interesting one and I want to give it some thought.

    But first,

    BUMP

    Just got a research grant from the IHR. WOOHOO!
  • Blotto 16 Jul 2013 22:48:06 2,724 posts
    Seen 8 hours ago
    Registered 3 years ago
    Anyone have any recommendations for a good book on U.S history of some kind?

    Looking for something informative but also a relatively easy and enjoyable read.

    In fact, just anything like that at all really.

    Edited by Blotto at 22:48:29 16-07-2013
  • MrDigital 16 Jul 2013 23:01:32 1,866 posts
    Seen 3 days ago
    Registered 4 years ago
    Does anyone watch John Green's Youtube series on World History or the one on American History? I really love the series. It's informative, it's fun and it's entertaining. Not sure if people who studied History at university level would be equally amazed but you should give it a shot :)



    Edited by MrDigital at 23:02:21 16-07-2013

    Formerly TheStylishHobo and Geesh.

  • RedSparrows 17 Jul 2013 01:01:27 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    I like the intro already - proper stating of history's importance ;)
  • RedSparrows 17 Jul 2013 01:35:47 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    meme wrote:
    May not strictly be a history question in itself, but I'm curious as to the actual mechanisms of cultural change. Random example - studying American literature at the moment, and it's fairly clear that the literature itself closely follows the evolution of culture in the States - like when isolationism was at its peak, writers of the time demanded a uniquely American literature, free from the influences and aesthetics of any other nations. Then as isolationism began to fall, so too did outside influences eke into the literature trends.

    Likewise, the literature also follows other trends, like the rise of socialism in the late 19th/early 20th century, the creation of unions, anti-war trends, rise of capitalism and economic theories etc etc. My question really is, speaking globally, do you think social forces work on cultural forces, cultural forces on social, or do they both reinforce each other simultaneously?
    I can't speak for American isolationism and the internal cultural mechanics that it imposed/sprang from, but to take socialism, and say, Russia. (Nor can I speak more generally at 1am without doing any preparatory work, contrary to previous statements. So soz for the incoming ramble)

    Turgenev wrote on liberal issues in his novels {Fathers and Sons), alongside other, more sentimental problems. Chernyshevksy, on the other hand, wrote an explicitly political novel (What is to be Done?, so political that Lenin aped the name for a 1902 diatribe), in response to Turgenev's position. Third, Tolstoy wrote a piece under the same name, in 1886 - outlining still further, another position. My rambling point is this: each can be taken to signify a different means of cultural exchange, if you understand that they're not exclusively so, and are merely useful representations rather than accurate models.

    Turgenev saw the Russian intellegentsia (in effect) as splitting further - from those pro-Western vs Slavophils (liberals vs traditional spiritualists, to be VERY crude) - to a split in the pro-Western camp also - liberals and nihilists. This is part of a wider European cultural development: Romanticism, and the effects thereof. Now, how did Romanticism spread? I cannot say for sure: it would have been primarily via the established wealthy, who could travel to the German states, read the French philosophes, hear the waves emnating from Hegel, Schiller, Goethe, Fichte, et al - people willing and able to go and seek ideas for themselves, or at least put themselves in a position where their company, be it German, Russian, or whoever, knew and spoke of such things.

    Of course, the liberals were similar, and took from the French and other Englightenment bastions the principles they wished to see brought about in a particularly Russian way. Again, I am butchering complexity because I can't remember all the details and am tired.

    But, my point here is, we can see the pro-Westerners in Russia, the people of Turgenev's millieu (or some, anyway), at least, of Fathers and Sons, as seeking out ideas, as being of certain classes and means. This is not to say their ideas did not have resonance 'lower down' the social order.

    On the other hand, we have Chernyshevksy. What is to be Done? sets, clearly, the notion that sublimation of all selfish desires to a political cause is good and right. This is inspiring to anyone who wanted to see change - liberal, Slavophil, radical. Let's look at the latter, for now, though. The radicals, in imbibing Marx (who, of course, never saw Russia as having a hope of becoming communist, and indeed barely paid any attention to it) perhaps in the ways of the wealthy traveller above, saw struggle as being the paramount mode of life.

    It is true that, in 1917, the Bolsheviks, contrary to their name, did not have a majority support, if such a thing were even possible at that time. Yet the wider picture, under Nicholas II (1905 revolution, Stolypin reforms, etc), then Kerensky, is of a broad mass of the Russian people wanting something radical, be it land (the peasants' chief desire) or rights (the urban workers etc) and political representation. There was an idea in the world, and it had spread far and wide. It tapped into old desires: peasants for land (far older than Chernyshevksy), and newer: rights for workers, workers councils, etc. These ideas sometimes came from abroad, but mingled with those at hand - those that were far more familiar, and therefore, powerful, to the people of Russia. The peasant probably didn't give a fig for political representation, but they were caught up in the same 'struggle' (very broadly speaking) as the urbanite who did. Cultural ideas from abroad mingled with those at home, and the forces at home changed the application and understanding of those foreign ideas, brought by Turgenev's Fathers, and Sons, and others.

    The cruel twist came in 1929, when Stalin launched the war on the peasants - the triumph of ideas over tradition and 'order' in the peasant world. The brutality that followed highlights just how far the Bolsheviks were, really, from actual peasant desires. But pre-1917, the radical struggle was a broiling mass of ideas, mingling from sources abroad, and at home. In conclusion: foreign ideas, native context.

    Finally, Tolstoy, the Tolstoy, wrote his own What is to be Done?, in 1886 (also known as 'What then must we do?' The Russian, 'что делать?', is translatable in several ways, really depending on intonation, as far as I can tell). Tolstoy believed (towards the end of his life) that the thing to 'save' Russia, and man, was spiritual salvation via simple living, the peasant model. His book was aimed at describing the poor living conditions of peasantry in Tula (near Yasnaya Polyana) and emphasising that it wasn't good enough - and nor did he want a class war. He became, in effect, an ascetic. But who influenced him? Schopenhauer. Yet his application of his reading of Schopenhauer's ideas was Russian, Orthodox, in effect, an anarchist. He was a Russian response to a world idea, to twist Hegel.

    In conclusion: all three authors wrote in response to social conditions, be they literally social, economically & politically orientated, or somewhere more spiritual. They did so under the influence, conscious and unconscious, of cultures, both foreign and domestic, clashing, merging and fracturing. In the case of Russia, it is absolutely clear that society had an enormous impact on culture: Socialist Realism is the most obvious example. But that is to elide the fact that it could only have done so because the culture was there to give form and enforce such radical social demands. After all, the revolution happened in 1917, not 1817. And yet, this still doesn't account for the peasants lack of enthusiasm - their social needs and their cultural sphere had older roots, simpler aims: religion & survival, and only one clear political demand: the right to have their land and damn anyone else. They didn't need that culture to demand their right, but they did need the rest of society to imbibe the ideas, from abroad and churned and brewed in a Russian way, for them to be able to act on their desires - which they did, violently at points. Russia, however, is a special case: it developed an intelligentsia (indeed, our word comes from Russian) because of acute political repression. It had to import ideas, almost literally, for social change - but at the same time, it always retained a specifically Russian set of ideas, exemplified by the Slavophils - be they for democracy, or be they for the autocratic Tsar.

    Now, if you were a Marxist, you'd say culture is from the same source as social pressures, i.e. economics, and if you were a Slavophil you'd say religion, or populism, and if you were... bla bla bla.

    Edited by RedSparrows at 01:41:53 17-07-2013

    Edited by RedSparrows at 01:42:44 17-07-2013
  • RedSparrows 17 Jul 2013 08:32:10 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    And universities/cities vs poor communications in the country, and the fact that the first two books were mostly influential within Russia, and dramatically so in certain circles. Chernyshevsky had an indirect impact on millions, Turgenev less so.

    And a host of other things a 1am ramble with no planning misses out...
  • Bremenacht 21 Aug 2013 00:30:37 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Q: Can you answer GCSE History questions?

    A: No. 4/7 :/
  • cubbymoore 21 Aug 2013 00:40:03 36,468 posts
    Seen 1 hour ago
    Registered 10 years ago
    The thing is, they're all kind of marginal questions, making you have to pick from a set of dates that are quite close together, or which set of names from this list is the correct one, when actually history should be about the ideas behind those facts and the fundamental changes, socially, politically and psychologically that came from them.

    Which is my excuse for 4/7 too.
  • neilka 21 Aug 2013 00:55:53 15,668 posts
    Seen 6 minutes ago
    Registered 9 years ago
  • RedSparrows 21 Aug 2013 08:24:04 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    I got 4/7 too. Quiz is stupid!
  • RedSparrows 16 Sep 2013 15:29:04 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f54_1337075813

    History-tastic!
  • Bremenacht 16 Sep 2013 16:07:19 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    That's great. Civ for real.
  • imamazed 16 Sep 2013 16:09:19 5,524 posts
    Seen 15 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Agreed. Too many negligble Germanic changes though toward the beginning.

    (But that's history's fault I suppose)
  • Bremenacht 16 Sep 2013 16:25:57 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Is Europe so messy simply because our recorded history is so detailed? Is history (as a subject) too Euro-centric?
  • imamazed 16 Sep 2013 16:29:18 5,524 posts
    Seen 15 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    History in Europe in Euro-centric, yeh.
  • Moot_Point 16 Sep 2013 16:38:15 3,917 posts
    Seen 39 minutes ago
    Registered 2 years ago
    Like the simple test, 7/7. :p

    ================================================================================

    mowgli wrote: I thought the 1 married the .2 and founded Islam?

  • glaeken 16 Sep 2013 16:41:36 11,102 posts
    Seen 16 hours ago
    Registered 9 years ago
    Probably more a random musings one this but I was looking at a review on Amazon the other day about a WW1 documentary written by an American who said it was ruined by being far to focussed on European involvement. Amazon reviews can be a great source of entertainment sometimes.
  • RedSparrows 16 Sep 2013 16:52:01 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    :D
  • thelzdking 16 Sep 2013 17:15:51 4,326 posts
    Seen 2 days ago
    Registered 5 years ago
    That map video was good, it reminded me of this: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/david+woodroffe/colin+mcevedy/the+new+penguin+atlas+of+medieval+history/4300695/

    The series of historical atlases by this guy are good, if somewhat facile, although I guess that's a pitfall of the medium.
  • Bremenacht 16 Sep 2013 17:48:14 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    imamazed wrote:
    History in Europe in Euro-centric, yeh.
    AHhhhhh :D

    'Map of Europe', yeah I missed that critical bit of info.
  • mal 16 Sep 2013 18:43:42 22,341 posts
    Seen 7 hours ago
    Registered 13 years ago
    When I was taught History at school it was almost all exclusively English, although at least from that there were hints of a monarchy in Holland and France.

    Cubby didn't know how to turn off sigs!

  • Bremenacht 16 Sep 2013 18:56:23 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Yet something like German history (with its progenitors) is arguably just as relevant, I'd guess, given how that turned out. Polish history is also supposed to be very interesting, yet I know little/nothing of either.

    Edited by Bremenacht at 18:58:19 16-09-2013
  • Fake_Blood 16 Sep 2013 19:01:00 4,077 posts
    Seen 5 hours ago
    Registered 5 years ago
    I'm from Belgium so thanks for reminding us we've been invaded by every single nation around us.
  • RedSparrows 16 Sep 2013 19:34:22 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    Polish history is very interesting, from what little I know of it.
  • andytheadequate 16 Sep 2013 20:10:08 8,081 posts
    Seen 21 minutes ago
    Registered 4 years ago
    @Brem - Norman Davies writes very good books on Polish history if you are interested.

    Belgium has historically been seen as strategically important by a lot of countries. The standard response of the British armed forces is to send an army to Flanders...

    Edited by andytheadequate at 22:33:41 16-09-2013
  • RedSparrows 16 Sep 2013 20:38:58 22,069 posts
    Seen 33 minutes ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    The only books on Poland I know tend to be political/geo-political histories, but that's an interesting enough area. Davies is a very good historian.
  • Bremenacht 16 Sep 2013 21:11:03 17,613 posts
    Seen 10 hours ago
    Registered 7 years ago
    @ata I am. Can you recommend one?
  • andytheadequate 16 Sep 2013 22:40:56 8,081 posts
    Seen 21 minutes ago
    Registered 4 years ago
    Bremenacht wrote:
    @ata I am. Can you recommend one?
    I've only read Rising 44, which is about the Warsaw Rising in WW2. I've read a lot of history books but this was by far the most interesting. What makes it exceptional is that he mixes the high level narrative and analysis with a lot of anecdotes from people who were there.

    He's also written other books about older Polish history, but I've not read this yet
  • Page

    of 10 First / Last

Log in or register to reply