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history 97d - midterm review

history 97d - midterm review - History 97D Midterm Review I...

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History 97D – Midterm Review I. INTRODUCTION a. Three questions b. What is a myth/what is its function? c. Relationship between myth and history Carl Friedman: “To be American is an ideal” Robert Wright: “National sense of identity is rooted in self-told mythology. Our myths represent cultural memory and provide cultural meaning.” American myths are Anglo-Saxon male myths in origin – a mixture of Christianity, capitalism, and democracy in that order A. Three questions: 1. What is it about? 2. Can this class be used as anything but a history course 50 years from now? 3. Will people continue to buy into these myths? Myths serve as cultural glue – will they still in 50 years? History is fact + interpretation “All history is contemporary history” New questions, new interpretations Journalism = first rough draft of history “To understand a thing thoroughly is to know its history” – DeChardain “We know most foreign cultures and most of our own culture by reputation only” “Societies reconstruct their past rather than faithfully record them” “The mythology of a nation is the intelligible mass of that enigma called a national character” “A mask tells us more than a face B. What is a myth/what is its function MYTH: “An idea rooted in the past, interpreted in the present, looking forward, whose multiple functions are to offer hope and justify shortcomings of reality.” 1. Organizes reality
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2. If taken literally, it can obscure reality 3. Used to make reality bearable C. Relationship between myth and history “Myth and history have always enjoyed a close-working relationship. Myths are the traditional stories a culture tells itself about itself…myth and reality are complimentary elements of the historical record. The intersection of myth and reality occurs when people base beliefs on myths and act as if the myths are true.” – Nick Cords, Paul Geisler Overall encompassing myths impact group psyche individual psyche actions and back all over again II. FIVE MYTHS 1. Success myth Rags to riches Mobility, self-made, money Process; people prefer success over status Success is a journey, not a destination “rags to riches” represents mobility “Class refers to stages, not caste” – Clinton Rossiter Self-made person responsible for success and failures Money = validation of personal worth “Americans, in the absence of any traditional ways of authenticating themselves and finding themselves in the system – caste, clan or order – have to depend primarily upon moneymaking; making money became the validation of personal worth very early in our history.” – Paige No way to determine what class people are in except for value of possessions Defined as moneymaking machines Puritanism “the haunting fear that people are happy” Typical “Godly” Puritan: worker in the world Work becomes a blessing; opportunity to serve God Social Darwinism secularized Puritanism Were the Puritans puritanical?
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