Saturday, July 03, 2004

The Sequence of Cultures in the Arctic

The Sequence of Cultures in the Arctic Describes archeological research into Arctic Cultures. The focus has largely been on Canadian Arctic research, but findings relate also to Alaskan and Greenland cultures.

From the site:

During the last glaciation the westernmost part of this region formed the uplands of Beringia, the first part of the Americas occupied by humans. However, the earliest widely accepted sites, found in Alaska, are somewhat later and are assigned to the Paleo-Arctic tradition. This is succeeded by the Arctic Small Tool tradition (ASTt) whose bearers also became the first humans to occupy the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, migrating into those regions from Alaska. The resulting widespread ASTt population developed differently in Alaska and in Arctic Canada/Greenland. In Alaska the Arctic Small Tool tradition developed into the Norton tradition while in the Eastern Arctic it eventually becomes the Dorset culture. The cultures of the Thule tradition developed from the Norton tradition in the area around Bering Strait and subsequently spread, in part through an extraordinary population movement, throughout the entire Arctic region except the Aleutian Islands. The widespread present day Inuit peoples are the direct cultural and biological descendants of the Thule.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Middle Ages

Middle Ages Contains overview of life during Middle Ages including life in the towns, manors, the royal court, barons, medieval soldiers, peasants, and feudal system.

From the site:

The Middle Ages stretched roughly from the fifth century to the fifteenth century. It began with the collapse of the Roman Empire and although Roman customs continued for a while, it was soon replaced by a system of running society called "feudalism." This system made skill with the sword the most powerful and made kings and landholders powerful.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Mallarme, Manet, and the Belle Epoch in Paris

Mallarme, Manet, and the Belle Epoch in Paris Provides an essay on 19th Century Paris. Focuses on the Belle Epoch and the role of the poet Mallarme and the impressionist Manet.

From the site:

By the nineteenth century, Paris was the world center for art, literature, and music. In the latter part of the century, art and poetry began to deviate from traditions sanctioned by the official Salon and art and poetry critics. Some of the transformation began in1862 when the Parisian-born painter Edouard Manet combined a “current social subject and an unconventional tonal style in “La Musique aux Tuileries” which […] was influential to a new artistic outlook.” (Gowing, 630) A year later Manet grabbed public attention when he exhibited Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon de Refuses in 1863. Many Parisians and art critics found the painting vulgar because it portrayed classic nude women having a picnic with fully clothed men. His choice of subject matter, which reflected contemporary society, would continue to confound critics and the public alike throughout his career. In poetry, a committee of three poets rejected an early version of Stephane Mallarme’s most popular poem, “L’Apres-midi d’un faune” for the third volume of the poetry anthology, “Le Parnasse contemporain", published in the mid 1860s.

Le Dejeuner sur l’h herbe and L’Apres-midi d’un faune represented a change in art and poetry and both can be considered deviants from tradition. However, while both of these works were created in the 1860s, the greatest transformation of art and poetry from traditional to modern occurred during the Belle Epoch (1871-1914). A modern world emerged during the Belle Epoch. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the bicycle appeared in Paris, the Lumiere brothers made the first short film, Gustave Eiffel built the Eiffel Tower, and Charles Darwin and Louis Pasteur made major contributions to science and medicine. According to Rosemary Lloyd, in her book Mallarme: the Poet and His Circle of Friends, “this was a time in which writers and artists were intensely involved in exploring contemporary society. (77) The best-known group involved in exploring modern society was the Impressionists—Pierre Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and a few others. They were known for their use of vivid colors, unique brush styles and tendency (except for Degas) to paint outside. I believe that the friendships existing between artists and poets can be credited with contributing a great deal to the modern art and literature that came from Paris during the Belle Epoch. The Impressionists just mentioned were all good friends and their circle included Stephane Mallarme and Edouard Manet. Although Manet did not exhibit with the Impressionists when they held their Salon de independents from 1874 to 1886 and did not embrace the title of “Impressionist”, he was considered their leader. The slightly older Manet developed modern thinking about art with his unique brush style and choices of contemporary subjects and settings. Stephane Mallarme rejected the metrical rhythms and themes that marked the Parnassian style popular in the day, in order to achieve a free, more prose-like verse. As for theme, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Mallarme sought to describe “the fleeting immediate sensations of man’s inner life and experience.” (458) In my opinion, part of the reason why approaches to poetry and painting progressed was due to the close friendships that evolved in Paris. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the importance of the friendship between Mallarme and Manet and explain how it contributed toward their creative endeavors.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Ghost Amendment: The Thirteenth Amendment that Never Was

Ghost Amendment: The Thirteenth Amendment that Never Was Article describing a pro-slavery constitutional amendment proposed by the American Congress in 1861.

From the site:

When the 36th Congress adjourned on March 3, 1861, it was anyone's guess whether the United States would continue to exist as a single nation. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as president, seven Southern states had seceded. Four others would soon join them. As the candidate of the new Republican Party, Lincoln had championed the power of the federal government to exclude slavery from territories that were not yet states, a power that the slave states saw as a dagger aimed at the heart of their "peculiar institution."

Attempting to mollify the slave states, the lame-duck President James Buchanan (picture at right) asked Congress to propose an "explanatory amendment" (his words) to the Constitution which would explicitly recognize slaves as property and the right of slave-owners to keep their human property anywhere on American soil. Although this would do nothing more than restate existing law, as expressed in 1857 in the Supreme Court's explosive Dred Scott decision, a special House committee of 33 members under Representative Thomas Corwin of Ohio (picture below at left) dutifully, if unenthusiastically, set about drafting the proposed amendment, their numbers steadily depleted by the departure of Southern members whose states had seceded.

In a stunning feat of linguistic legerdemain, the Corwin committee delivered to the House floor a draft amendment to protect slavery that never mentioned the words "slave" or "slavery" at all! But then, neither did the original Constitution. Significantly, the proposed amendment did not address the burning issue of moment: the power of Congress to bar slavery from territories that were not yet states.

The amendment passed the House as Joint Resolution No. 80 on February 28 by a vote of 133 to 65, which was 2/3 of the members present. In the subsequent parliamentary wrangle over whether that met the Constitution's requirement of two-thirds of the House, opponents of the amendment lost. On March 2, the Senate acted in favor of the proposed amendment by a vote of 39 to 5, with anti-slavery Senator Benjamin F. Wade of Ohio attempting to derail it -- or at least to demonstrate his disgust for it -- by asking unanimous consent to vote first on a bill relating to guano deposits. When the final vote came, however, Wade supported the amendment.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Today In Alternate History

Today In Alternate History This is a fun site that blogs events that never occured today. I have always found "alternate" history to interesting and thought provoking. Ultimately, it is little more than science fiction speculation (the genre this seems to resemble the most) but yet...If things had happened just a little different, would any of us even be here?

From the site:

Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today

What's the deal with the dates?

The years listed correspond to the calendar that the culture in the entry uses. Hence, the posts about the Chinese Empire use the Chinese calendar, posts about Islam use the Islamic year, and so forth. The most unusual ones are the Incan year, which I've only used twice because it's so hard to figure out, and the mg calendar, which only shows up when I feel like confusing you.

Did any of these things actually happen?

Yes, most of these alternate realities are based in real events. There really was a lunar strike witnessed by 5 monks in 1178; Pete Best really was the Beatles' original drummer; many of the battles between terrestrial enemies really occurred, if not with the exact same outcomes as I present.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad This site allows you to go on the journey to the North from a slave's point of view and follow their path as they try to escape from their southern bondage. You can "visit safe houses which Harriet Tubman actually used" and see pictures. There are maps of her actual routes and information describing how she traveled them.

From the site:

You are a slave.

Your body, your time, your very breath belong to a farmer in 1850s Maryland. Six long days a week you tend his fields and make him rich. You have never tasted freedom. You never expect to.

And yet . . . your soul lights up when you hear whispers of attempted escape. Freedom means a hard, dangerous trek. Do you try it?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Teaching History for Citizenship in the Elementary School

Teaching History for Citizenship in the Elementary School. What better place to teach history than when students are little and in elementary school?

From the site:

A substantial amount of research and curriculum development completed over the past two decades can be used to improve the teaching of history to young children. This ERIC Digest discusses (1) insights from recent research, (2) insights from recent curriculum development, and (3) connections of research to curriculum development. A list of Web sites which may be used to enhance elementary teachers' history-for-citizenship lessons is provided.

INSIGHTS FROM RECENT RESEARCH

Recent studies on the teaching of history to young children have investigated the development of children's conceptions of historical time (e.g., Barton and Levstik, 1996; Hoge, 1991), children's ability to construct historical narratives (Barton, 1997; Levstik and Pappas, 1987), and their explanations of historical change over time and their ability to interpret, sequence, and date historical events and images (Barton and Levstik, 1996; Foster, Hoge and Rosch, 1999). The following are generalizations selected from the conclusions of this body of research.

Brophy and VanSledright (1997, 23) found that even the youngest elementary students have a sense of history and often bring prior conceptions of the past into the classroom. They note that young students typically have trouble retaining historical information that has not been situated within a context and linked to a prior understanding. They conclude that a barren, textbook-centered approach that treats history as a thin narrative of events that simply happened may prevent students from
"developing the critical, interpretive, and synthetic thinking abilities required for cultivating historical understanding."

Barton's research (1997, 13-16) also revealed that young students, even kindergartners, possess some accurate historical knowledge; for example, that covered wagons came before cars. Older elementary students demonstrate similar understandings -- often gained without formal history instruction -- about clothing, technology, and architecture. Barton determined, however, that pre-fifth grade students "have a very limited understanding of the nature and purpose of the government, politics, and economic institutions." He also found that even when students in the intermediate grades do study these topics, "They tend to interpret them solely in terms of the actions and desires of individuals, and to misunderstand or ignore the role of government and economics." Barton notes that elementary-grade-level students typically know very little about the methods used by historians in the creation of their narratives and, perhaps as a result, uncritically accept printed historical accounts as the truth.