Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Colonial America & American Art Research Paper Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 2500 words

Colonial America & American Art - Research Paper Example What is most striking is their approach to social, economic and political inequality, a theme that has run deep throughout American history, and continues to do so today. Zinn begins his account of American history, predictably, with the first expeditions of Columbus to the New World. Some pages later, the author gives a clear excursus on his approach to and conception of history, and his view on the role of the historian. Zinn explains that he has rejected history which involves a grand narrative of political events, of war and of conquest; in short, he has rejected the history of the nation. He quotes Kissinger’s assertion that ‘History is the memory of the State’ in order to reject it (19). Kissinger, by contrast, was most interested in a model of history based on the nation-state, and relations between nation-states. He penned several works on theories of power relations, and on the history of European state relations in the 19th century. Zinn suggests a diffe rent approach – an attempt to view history from the perspective of ‘the people’: ‘the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees’, and so forth (10). ... This is in contrast to the more conventional view of history taken by Craven. Craven’s book is essentially a catalogue of the styles and trends in art and architecture which have developed and flourished at different stages in American history. The historical summaries given at the beginning of each major section (i.e. Colonial America, Federal America etc.) are essentially a narrative of high political developments. The historical introduction given to the Federal period is a particularly good example. Having mentioned that the newly-independent colonies were troubled by their squabbling Congress, Craven goes on to emphasize that America was ‘also the home of a large number of exceptional men – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, to mention but a few’ (110). This presentation of the ‘great men’ view of history, explored in some detail by the great 19th century historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle, could not be more different from the presentation of the so-called ‘Founding Fathers’ in Zinn’s account. In a chapter entitled ‘Tyranny is Tyranny’, in which he charts the beginnings of the American Revolution, Zinn interprets events in a framework which could easily be called Marxist (59). He sees the events leading to the War of Independence as a struggle between the working class and a landowning, wealthy class for control of political power in the nascent country. The initial skirmishes may have been the work of commoners, but, as Zinn sees it, ‘certain important people in the English colonies’ the seized control of the convulsions (59). By creating a

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