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Aaron Shaw

Popular: Did Marie-Antoinette really say "Let them eat cake"? - 9 views

  • in fact, Marie-Antoinette was a generous patron of charity and other members of the royal family were often embarrassed or irritated by her habit of bursting into tears when she heard of the plight of the suffering poor. There's also a problem with dates. During Louis the Sixteenth's time as king, there was only one case of bread shortages in Paris and that was shortly after his coronation. Marie-Antoinette was eighteen at the time and when she heard about the people's unhappiness at the food situation, she wrote a letter about it back to her mother in Austria, in which she said, "We are more obliged than ever to work for the people's happiness. The King seems to understand this truth; as for myself, I know that in my whole life (even if I live for a hundred years) I shall never forget". Marie-Antoinette's personality therefore seems to have been the exact opposite of someone who would joke about the starving poor.
  • The story of a princess joking "let them eat cake" had actually been told many years before Marie-Antoinette ever arrived in France, as a young princess of fourteen in 1770. Her brother-in-law, the Count of Provence, who hated her, later said that he heard the story as a child, long before his brother ever married Marie-Antoinette. The count claimed that the version he heard was that the woman who made the comment had been his great-great-great grandmother, Maria-Teresa of Spain, who advised peasants to eat pie crust (or brioche) during bread shortages. A French socialite, the Countess of Boigne, said she'd heard that it had been Louis the Sixteenth's bitter aunt, Princess Victoria, and the great philosopher, Rousseau, wrote that he had heard the "let them eat cake" story about an anonymous great princess. Rousseau wrote this story in 1737 - eighteen years before Marie-Antoinette was even born!
    • Aaron Shaw
      This is quite interesting. Many of my AP Euro students enjoy thinking it was the queen. This will give them something to "chew" on, and allow for a teachable moment. As another great Philosophe suggested we should accept nothing as truth except our own existance.
  • Others think that because the French Revolution was able to dress itself up as the force that brought freedom and equality to Europe, it had to justify its many acts of violence and terror. Executing Marie-Antoinette at the age of thirty-seven and leaving her two children as shivering, heart-broken orphans in the terrifying Temple prison, suggested that the Revolution was a lot more complicated than its supporters like to claim. However, if Marie-Antoinette is painted as stupid, deluded, out-of-touch, spoiled and selfish, then we're likely to feel a lot less pity when it comes to studying her death. If that was the republicans' intention, then they did a very good job. Two hundred years later and the poor woman is still stuck with a terrible reputation, and a catchphrase, that she certainly doesn't deserve.
    As a student and teacher of, among other things, propaganda and censorship, I think this is a great example for students to play with in thinking about how 'truth' gets established, politically and historically. In discussing nationalism I often talk about the importance of political myth in establishing identities, and here is a powerful example of a myth that became hegemonic.
Ed Webb

Are A-Bomb Jokes OK? | Tokyo Notes - 7 views

    Interesting topic for history classes.
Victoria Keech

BrainFlips | Deck Profile for Book5 Wordly Wise Lesson 8 - 10 views

    Flashcards you can customise yourself
Ed Webb

How we remember them: the 1914-18 war today | openDemocracy - 6 views

  • After the war, however, the problem of reintegrating into society both those who had served and those who had lost, and finding a narrative that could contain both, found one answer by an emphasis on the universality of heroism. A British society that has since the 1960s grown increasingly distant from the realities of military service - whilst remaining dedicated to it as a location for fantasy - has been unable to move on from this rhetorical standpoint
  • The war's portrayal has always been shaped by contemporary cultural mores, and commemorative documentaries demonstrate just how much the relationship between the creators and consumers of popular culture has changed over the last fifty years.

    For the fiftieth anniversary of 1914, the BBC commissioned the twenty-six part series The Great War, based around archive footage and featuring interviews with veterans. There was an authoritative narrative voice, but no presenters. For the eightieth anniversary, it collaborated with an American television company on a six-part series littered with academic talking-heads. For the ninetieth anniversary, it has had a range of TV presenter-celebrities - among them Michael Palin, Dan Snow, Natalie Cassidy and Eamonn Holmes - on a journey of discovery of their families' military connections. These invariably culminate next to graves and memorials in a display of the right kind of televisual emotion at the moment the formula demands and the audience has come to expect.  

    The focus of these programmes - family history as a means of understanding the past - is worthy of note in itself. It is indicative of the dramatic growth of family history as a leisure interest, perhaps in response to the sense of dislocation inherent in modernity

  • The search for family history is usually shaped by modern preconceptions, and as such it seldom results by itself in a deeper understanding of the past. The modern experience of finding someone who shares your surname on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, taking a day trip to France and finding his grave (perhaps with a cathartic tear or few) might increase a person's or family's sense of emotional connection to the war, and may bring other satisfactions. Insofar as it is led not by a direct connection with a loved one, however, but by what television has "taught" as right conduct, it can seldom encourage a more profound appreciation of what the war meant for those who fought it, why they kept fighting, or why they died.
  • ...3 more annotations...
  • Projects such as The Great War Archive, which combine popular interest in the war with specialist expertise, and which recognise that an archive is different from a tribute or a memorial, suggest that it is possible to create high-quality content based on user submissions.
  • the exploitation of popular enthusiasm to encourage thought, rather than to enforce the "correct" opinion
  • It is certainly true that the 1914-18 war is popularly seen as the "bad war" and 1939-45 as the "good war." I think the one view is sustained in order to support the other. Although no expert, it seems to me that in reality the two world wars were marked more by their similarities than their differences (Europe-wide military/imperial rivalry causes collapse of inadequate alliance system > Germany invades everywhere > everywhere invades Germany). However, there is an extreme reluctance in Britain to admit that WW2 was anything other than a Manichean struggle between the elves and the orcs, so WW1 becomes a kind of dumping-ground for a lot of suppressed anxiety and guilt which might otherwise accrue to our role in WW2 - just as it might in any war. So we make a donkey out of Haig in order to sustain hagiographic views of Churchill. "Remembrance" of both wars continues to be a central feature of British public consciousness to an extraordinary, almost religious degree, and I think this has a nostalgic angle as well: if "we" squint a bit "we" can still tell ourselves that it was "our" last gasp as a global power.

    Personally I think it's all incredibly dodgy. "Remembrance," it seems to me, is always carried out in a spirit of tacit acceptance that the "remembered" war was a good thing. Like practically all of the media representation of the current war, Remembrance Day is a show of "sympathy" for the troops which is actually about preventing objective views of particular wars (and war in general) from finding purchase in the public consciousness. It works because it's a highly politicised ritual which is presented as being above politics and therefore above criticism. All these things are ways of manipulating the suffering of service personnel past and present as a means of emotionally blackmailing critics of government into silence. I reckon anyway.

Ed Webb

Does Russia need a memory law? | openDemocracy - 1 views

  • Those drafting it had heeded Napoleon’s exhortation to the creators of his constitution to ‘Write it in such a way that it is brief and obscure’.
  • assical memory laws defend the memory of all who suffered from crimes committed by the government or with its support. France has laws covering denial of the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire or the fact that the slave trade was a crime against humanity. The memory law proposed in Russia is fundamentally different. It intends, above all, to defend its memory of itself. More precisely, it intends to defend its memory of that régime which many consider criminal. After all, accusations of unleashing war and installing régimes of occupation are accusations levelled at Stalin and Stalinism.
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