A Review of Drawing Meaning into History by Kenneth Wilburn

A History Book from an alternative view point

A Review of Drawing Meaning into History by Kenneth Wilburn
Image Source - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/African_art#/media/File:Makonde_elephant.jpg
Kenneth Wilburn published a book with an unusual twist, as it was centered around his students' perception of history instead of being a normal run of the mill history text book.

There is a lot less emphasis on what is written, instead the pictures are the centerpiece of this work. The real difference was that he got his students to draw their impressions of history from the things they had learned from been on the course, which he teaches. Instead of narrative history he adds notes about each picture to put it into context for the readers. Pictures were selected for the ways, in which, they expressed the students’ impression of historical events rather than artistic merits.

It is certainly an interesting and novel approach when it comes down to writing a history text book. Wilburn over the years asked for students to draw pictures they felt to be related to the history course he was teaching them, and that they did further reading for. He took a selection of pictures drawn by his students starting in 1984 and finishing during 2014.

He chose the ones he believed were the most enlightening about perceptions relating to events in history, and whether perceptions altered depending on the part of the world been studied. The point made repeatedly in the book is that perceptions and impressions of what happened in history can have a bigger impact on people than undisputed objective facts.

This book is highly relevant to anybody that is studying a course in African History, due in large part to the fact that is the course that Kenneth Wilburn teaches. Further more the pictures included in this opus happen to be student interpretations of the history of the African continent.

Furthermore the 30 year period covered in this book witnessed drastic changes to the continent some for the better, yet arguably more for the worst. For instance, white rule ending in South Africa, the end of the Cold War, plus the impact of diseases like HIV, and famine as well as dictatorships coming and going. 

 

Reference

Wilburn, Kenneth Drawing Meaning into History Student Imagery and Philosophies 1984-2014 Kendall / Hunt publishing Co, U S (2015)

 

 


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Very good and helpful article

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