History and identity

In my last post, I mentioned teaching this history class and trying to relate what we were covering to the modern world. My students — inexplicably, but what can you do — tell me that they really care about contemporary history and are less interested in the medieval. So instead we’re going to focus on how images of the medieval and ancient world are used in propaganda. For example:

norway.a.fighting.alley.wwII.poster norwayposter

Here we’ve got two of the same image — Viking ship as symbol of shared Germanic heritage and Viking ship as symbol of Norwegian national identity. We’re going to have a good old chat about it tomorrow; given that my students come from half a dozen different countries, I think we’re likely to have some varied examples of how history is used to create cultural identity.

It’s always a risk asking kids questions about big historical themes; my school-year class tend to prefer getting asked fact-based, dates-and-places questions that they know they can get right or wrong, but the impression I get from this group is the opposite. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes.

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History and identity

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