Can History Be Re-Written?

By acendres

While reading Lynne Spichiger and Juliet Jacobson’s article “Telling an Old Story in a New Way: Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704,” I was reminded of Linda Nochlin’s article “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that we read for our Methods class back in the fall of 2012.

Nochlin intends to make the reader aware of the bias construction of the artistic canon, questioning the inherent social exclusions of the culture and society in which the artworks were produced. Nochlin explains the consequences of her loaded question, for “one begins to realize to what extent our consciousness of how things are in the world has been conditioned—and often falsified—by the way most important questions are posed.”[1]

Many art historians have dealt with this realization by picking out exceptional, albeit previously underappreciated, female artists from history and inserting them into the historical narrative. In their article, Spichiger and Jacobson deal with a similar issue in which museum exhibits attempt to include the perspectives of previously marginalized groups and individuals:

“Although many of these new or reinterpreted exhibits do an excellent job of educating audiences about different cultural views, there has been the concern that too many exhibits awkwardly try to retrofit multicultural history into pre-existing narratives which place Euro-American history at their center.”[2]

For the authors, the inherent problem lies in the limitations of the physical museum exhibit. Through the use of an interactive website medium, they were able to create “compelling content and an engaging design, [that] also facilitat[ed] the comparison of perspectives” through a vast array of primary and secondary sources.”[3]

While websites undoubtedly allow for a more inclusive historical narrative, the fact of the matter remains that multicultural viewpoints were often excluded from the greater historical narrative in the first place. Nochlin
Source: A. Endres  

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