Historical Subjectivity

I think I mentioned a while ago that I signed up for a few courses on Coursera, an site that has a multitude of classes available cheap as free. My first class, which started about two weeks ago, is History of Rock (Part One) taught by the University of Rochester’s Professor John Covach. So far, I’m really enjoying. This is not a class I would have ever been able to take in college because I would have been far too busy trying to cram one more comparative literature course into the semester. And, for some reason, I love seeing how any art form evolves, shifts and borrows from its past.

There’s also something to be said about watching how history unfolds from multiple different viewpoints and not just from the grand scale of politics and war. For the most part, any history class breaks everything into moments; those pivot points where it all changes. But with a class like this, or an English literature class or anything that focuses on day-to-day minutia of our past, it becomes possible to view history from a different angle.

When you view history through the lens of the culture, you can get a better idea of how those pivot points, those grand moments, are felt by people who do not make the policy decisions and do not make laws and great decrees. It’s an emotional and subjective view of history by the people who experienced. Examining how the culture (popular and sub) reacts to an event can tell you a great deal about how the people felt and thought, rather than just getting a bird’s eye view of history and sometimes it’s a good idea to dive down and examine those emotional snapshots.

Anyway, back to learning about Doo-Wop.


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