Modernism and Public History

Similarly to that of Edouard Manet and his work Le dejeuner sur l’herbe, Public History has been, and is continuing to alter the ways we study history and pursue it in the community. I chose this painting as a header as it represents a transition from one paradigm to another; relying on techniques of old masters, but incorporating new avant garde ideas. This work was rejected as part of the Paris Salon in 1863, as it did not conform to the traditional rules of painting set by the academy. Instead Manet chose to display his work in the Salon des Refuses in that same year, pushing the boundaries and allowing for new modernistic styles of art in society.

In comparison to Manet, Public History is using the ideals set by previous academics in history and applying new techniques to bring history more into the community. Instead of continuing within the university-based sphere of “publish or parish”, Public History offers a new market of history, one that is tangible in peoples lives. Since the 1970s this has continued to develop, as more historical institutions and sites have opened and are becoming cultural components of their communities. Public Historians are expanding the network of history, allowing for more points of view to be fostered, and various opinions from archaeologists, genealogists and other historians to be heard. As history is mostly available to everyone today in our society, versus that of previous elite, it has become a great interest in the members of society.

I am thrilled to be apart of the Public History MA program at the University of Western.  I am very excited to learn about all facets of Public History and gain practical knowledge for pursuing a career in the field. Stay tuned for updates on by progress through the program and into the community.

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