Albert Einstein Once said, ” To punish me for my contempt for authority, Fate made me an authority myself.” the idea of authority is the concept that we plunge right into, in this week’s readings.  In the realm of Public history, it is necessary to discuss the role and that individuals play in the owning history. In particular, public history, historian have to keep in mind what the styles and methods that come with sharing authority within the history community.

In chapter 11 of Thomas Cauvin’s book “Public History “,  Cauvin Notes that “the concept of shared authority helps turning people from mere consumers into active participants,”(Cauvin, 216). However, Cauvin also mentions that it is not always easy for historians to share authority. Yet, Cauvin also notes that through “inviting visitors attending exhibitions to share their stories” and “collaboration with narrators in creating oral history sources”, help redistribute authority more equally between historians and the public. (Cauvin, 216).  Cauvin remarks that by giving the community more “voices helps empowers the people, especially the underrepresented minorities.” (Cauvin,  217). In addition, to multiplying the voices of the community, Cauvin also notes that if historians want to share the authority they must adapt to not longer “ignoring the relevance of feelings and emotions writing history,” (Cauvin, 217)

Within, reinterpreting history, historian are plunged into the realm of feelings that come to both the audience as well as interpreters. Cauvin notes that in an instance at  Colonial Williamsburg. A Young reactor named Imani Turner experienced strong “overwhelming” emotions when reenacting a “slave about to rin for freedom,” (Cauvin, 217). Thomas Cauvin also remarks that when the ” interpreter goes through personal emotions, it linked to the re-enactment. Those emotions are also a way to connect with audiences.” (Cauvin, 217)  Cauvin also notes that collaborations and celebration despite their difference also help balance and share authority.


Enter a caption

“Run to Freedom” scene at the Peyton Randolph property. Eve, portrayed by Hope Smith (left), hugs Kate, portrayed by Imani Turner (right) before she runs to freedom with the British as Cornwallis leaves Williamsburg for Yorktown. 2008. Credit: David M. Doody. Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Also, this Photo can be found on page 217 in Thomas Cauvin’s Book Public History.

To explain why people have such close connection to the past despite if they are not an educational historian is to the fact that in our everyday lives we preserve the past in our lives. In chapter 2 Rosenzweig’s and Thelen’s, book “The Presence of the Past”, They note that  Many people dig deep into the family heritage to find out what anything from establishing their identity to their genetic or to the understand the culture they grandparents came from.

In addition in chapter 12 of Cauvin book “Public History,”  Cauvin also notes that Historian also acts as activists. So it is not far-fetched when I  say that historians look at the past to help frame the future. Cauvin notes that “History has a wonderful potential to examine contemporary issues and social concerns in the light of the past so that history can help people understand the complexity of the present,” (Cauvin,. 230).






One thought on “Authority

  1. I really enjoyed this blog post. I liked the amount of depth you went into with the Cauvin readings. I found it hard to link them with the presence of the past readings so I kind of just skimmed over them with my post and focused more on potp chapters so it was nice to see your view on Cauvin.


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