September 14th, 2017
The first half of Cristen Conger’s “How Revisionist History Works” strongly illustrates the principles and concepts of modern revisionist history. Conger begins by generally defining this particular form of history as the amendment of previously established historical facts due newly discovered information. This definition is exemplified quite thoroughly in the first half of the article; for instance, Conger refers to the DNA tests that confirmed Thomas Jefferson’s affair with a slave woman with whom he even fathered children. After the solidification of this fact, historians had to revisit the established facts on Jefferson to account and challenge them to reflect this new source of information- actions that echo Conger’s definition.
After the facts were firmly established, what I found most effective in Conger’s article was the approach that he took to expand upon modern revisionist history. He addresses the idea that society’s general perception of history is that elements of the past are essentially set in stone, that they are a constant. However, the article later quotes Carl Becker and backs his claim that history is a “living, evolving entity” and in turn, revisionist history is a predominant factor in keeping it alive. This approach has helped me to understand that revisionism is not just about editing facts every once in a while, but rather contributing to the ever-lasting conversation of history. By describing history as more than just the facts, Conger elevates the field of study from two-dimensional to three-dimensional, which ultimately loosens the traditional rigidity that surrounds it. Overall, “How Revisionist History Works” goes beyond a simple explanation of revisionist history, and truly exemplifies to its audience that this form of study can edit history while simultaneously expanding society’s conversation about certain events and figures.
Word Count: 287
Citation: “How Revisionist History Works.” Perspectives and Origins of Revisionist History – Revisionist History Perspectives | HowStuffWorks. January 07, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2017. http://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/revisionist-history1.htm.
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