The Handmaid’s Tale

September10

POST #1

While the novel was first published in 1985, it has garnered considerable attention within the last year. Many see parallels to current issues. What connection did you make between the world of Gilead and our world? Post your response, and comment on another student’s post. Be sure to do so by 9 pm.

POST #2

In the Historical Notes Professor Pieixoto warns his audience to be “cautious about passing moral judgment upon the Gileadeans…because [a historian’s] job is not to censure but to understand.”

What do you make of this description of a historian’s job? Should a historian be entirely objective? Is it possible to do so? What are the potential consequences of seeking only to “understand” and not to judge?

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69 Comments to

“The Handmaid’s Tale”

  1. September 15th, 2017 at 11:05 pm       amandag3 Says:

    I think that it is part of a historian’s job to have an opinion. While it is important that they accurately recount what happened in the past, it is even more important that they advise on how to make the world better for the future. If the historian’s from THT are constantly objective, it is just as bad as saying out loud that the Gileadeans did nothing wrong. For this reason, I think it is impossible for historian’s to be entirely objective. By claiming he/she is objective, a historian, such as those in THT, passes no judgement about the horrific events in Gilead, therefore passively granting permission for the events to occur again. Similar to my last post regarding the bystander effect, if no person stands up to the injustices of society, the injustices will only continue. In this case, it is a historian’s job to caution by recounting the past. Their job is to warn us that something horrible has happened, and we cannot make that mistake again. For example, when historians talk about the Holocaust today, they acknowledge how evil it was and admit that Hitler needed to be stopped sooner than he was. If historians do not shed light on the negative aspects of previous societies, our current society cannot learn from the mistakes of our predecessors. Professor Pieixoto claims a historian’s job is to simply “understand,” yet I disagree wholeheartedly. No matter what the circumstances, nothing can justify the actions of the Gileadeans. So, historians should not say “we were not there, so we cannot judge.” Instead they should take the facts presented to them and use it as a lesson to guide contemporary society in the right direction- in the direction of unity, peace and acceptance- all key ideas absent in Gilead.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 4:37 pm       danielleg6 Says:

      I absolutely agree with you, Amanda. Like you said, the events in Gilead were much too horrible to be looked at objectively. Your point about the bystander effect was also very interesting. If being a bystander is just as bad as being a victimizer, then what does that make a historian? Historians victimize the people they study by being objective, and must recognize terrible things as terrible.


      • September 17th, 2017 at 11:28 am       dianag2 Says:

        I completely agree with Amanda and Danie. The opinions of historians add depth to Gilead. Without layers of subjective judgment, the dystopia of Gilead is just simply factual. Just like we have opinions on historical events, historians do (and should) as well. By having different perspectives on an event, in this case Gilead, we are better able to understand the horrible events that took place. Like Amanda, I also disagree with the idea that if “we were not there, we cannot judge.” Just because a historian is recounting something from the past, it does not mean that he/she cannot realize, discuss, and judge the appalling events.


  2. September 16th, 2017 at 1:01 pm       devp1 Says:

    In my opinion, there is a partial truth to Professor Pieixoto’s claim that historians have a job to understand; however, I do not agree that they must be entirely objective when studying historical matters. An historian’s main responsibility is to explain history and understand it, not cast moral judgement (plainly giving opinions on an event should be the job of an ethicist). They have a duty to the public to explore the past and analyze it without giving their opinions or offering their moral reflections. If they have a desire to assert their opinions, historians must do it only after they have fully understood what happened in the past and what caused it. As we all know, history is more than a series of events; in fact, anything that concerns humanity is bound to be complex in nature. Therefore, before judging specific historical events or figures, historians are obligated to account for these complexities and not assume that everything was clear-cut. With that in mind, when they do moralize about the past, they must do it while considering historical thinking skills, such as the ones we continually develop in our AP History courses (keeping the context of the time period in mind, comparing primary documents to gain a holistic understanding, etc). Historians should also focus on making their judgments in an implicit manner, leaving the reader with enough details to piece together the historian’s opinion on the matter. I do believe that historians have a right – and perhaps even a duty – to cast judgement on the past, but they must not do it without first explaining history as it occurred. Clearly humankind has been involved in utterly repulsive events (one of the most infamous being the Holocaust). Suppose historians never judged the past; would we ever learn from our mistakes? Would history, as the cliché goes, continue to repeat itself?


  3. September 16th, 2017 at 2:46 pm       christiner2 Says:

    I believe that a historian’s job is not only to analyze history, but also to judge it. Historians can’t be totally objective because they naturally study certain times or events that they desire to learn more about. As Dr. Shieh-Jay Su explains, “There’s usually a reason historians are interested in certain topics. You can’t take one identity out. If you look at personal identity, national identity and the way we understand ourselves as professional historians, you can see a lot of conflict between those identities.” Thus, it is important that they study facts of different times, but they must not disregard their feelings or judgements. There are very few people who know and understand history as well as historians do, and so it is important that the historians speak on the behalf of the people in order to prevent a catastrophic event from reoccurring, including, but not limited to wars, genocides, and terror attacks. If one seeks to simply “understand” rather than to judge, it can easily result in a repeat of past events. I agree that a historian’s job is to be objective, however it can not be limited to just that. A historian must be able to effectively study and understand history and then should be able to express his or her opinions, leaving it up to the people to decide if they agree or disagree. Historians should not try to imbue the people with their beliefs, but rather try to convey a warning in the case of impending danger.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 12:40 am       jennifere1 Says:

      I agree with your idea that it is the role of a historian to accurately inform the public about events of the past. In the same way that doctors are trusted to know considerably more about medicine than the average person, a historian has a greater wealth of knowledge and a wider access to a variety of resources through which they can study the past. The historian has a responsibility to decipher the accounts of the past and present it in a way digestible to the public. However, it is important for them not to erase the deeper meaning of what they studied and fail to craft an opinion towards the actions of the past. The historians have greater insight than most and should draw attention to any troubling parallels between present day and the beginning to an atrocity in the past.


  4. September 16th, 2017 at 3:00 pm       lesliey1 Says:

    There are many factors that impact the judgment of a historian such as their nationality, race, gender, etc. which makes objectivity difficult. However, without passing some moral judgment on the events of the past, they can be allowed to repeat themselves. For example, when the South Africans were creating their system of apartheid, they looked at how the Americans separated people based on their race. Those in charge of Gilead looked to the past in order to create their ideal future. The past can provide people with a lot of information on how best to subjugate and divide people. If we don’t pass moral judgement, then are we saying that horrible events in history were ok? Objectively speaking, one could conclude that the use of nuclear weapons is a good means of ending a war or leverage. If you don’t look at the human cost (such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki) or what can go wrong if they are not stored properly, then there could be disastrous consequences. There wouldn’t be bioethics if historical events such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment were not seen as unethical and cruel. An understanding of history can prevent nations and individuals from repeating the same mistakes which makes seeing events from a moral/ethical perspective so vital.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 6:28 pm       michaell16 Says:

      I definitely agree! Historians ought to pass judgment on history and so do we. Much of human progress results from interpreting the past as a guide of what to do and what not to do. What would our nation be like if George Washington decided to use his widespread support to install himself as an autocrat? He very well could have if not for his disgust of the monarchies of late and belief in the benefits of a republic. It is always beneficial to learn from the past.


    • September 18th, 2017 at 12:52 am       christiner2 Says:

      I totally agree with this comment. The examples that Leslie included really convinced me and made my belief in this subject stronger. As Leslie said, if one does not include moral judgement, events in history can be passed as acceptable or even as a “shortcut”. Without moral judgment, people are left to decide by themselves whether something is ok or not and because everyone has different opinions and perspectives, this can lead to a very split and conflicting society.


  5. September 16th, 2017 at 5:05 pm       danielleg6 Says:

    Professor Pieixoto’s description a of historian’s job is quite frankly ludicrous. Just because historians did not live in the era that they study does not mean that they should be objective. We must recognize the bad things that occurred in the past and learn from them. For example, slavery should not be recognized as an institution of the times. The enslavement of human beings is morally disgusting, and this idea has been around for a lot longer than one may think. An objective historian would say that everyone in Revolutionary America did not pass judgement on slavery because it was “normal” for them. However, during this time, there were vehement abolitionists like Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens, who wrote essay after essay about the evils of slavery. Also, there is no way to be objective about the horrific genocides in history. No historian, nor even person, would be able to defend the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, Rwandan Genocide, Sudanese Genocide, or Bosnian Genocide by saying that we cannot understand what happened in a different culture. In addition, it is quite impossible for people to be totally objective; it is human nature to judge others. All historians, as objective as they may believe they are, have some kind of bias. A historian from Vietnam would have a very different view on the Vietnam War as would a historian from the United States. If historians only sought to understand, and not to judge, then the bad parts of history may repeat themselves. There is no denying that a world in which Hitler is objectively studied is a world that would be a good place to live.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 7:05 pm       danielleg6 Says:

      I just realized an error in my last sentence… it should read “There is no denying that a world in which Hitler is objectively studied is a world that would not be a good place to live”


      • September 16th, 2017 at 7:26 pm       liamm3 Says:

        Thank god you realized that error.

        I think what you have to say about slavery in early America is really important. There were abolitionists at the time!!! The monument debate is red hot right now because people want to leave up symbols of oppression. We have to realize that it is not a choice of whether we should or should not be objective about history. It is our duty to not be objective about history.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 3:31 am       ansat2 Says:

      I completely agree with you Danielle. As I wrote in my post, the Holocaust was an atrocious act of violence because of an overlying prejudice within the Nazi Party. However, it is not not the historians right to make the decisions for us, but make us see why it failed, and ways to make it better in the future. As you said earlier, “just because historians did not live through that era, does not make them objective to it.” What’s wrong is wrong, and we and future generations should take that into accountability, so that something so atrocious will never happen again.


  6. September 16th, 2017 at 6:06 pm       michaell16 Says:

    Upon reading Piexoto’s claim, I was disgusted. By remaining objective to history, humanity impedes its progress. Yes, objectivity may increase the value of a historical account as it provides greater accuracy, but a great historical interpretation involves analyzing the evidence and interpreting it as you would modern day news. Input on historical accounts is valuable as it allows for condemnation of abhorred atrocities and validation of positive achievements. It is essential in ensuring that “history won’t repeat itself”. Not passing judgment on previous societies vindicates a societies actions, despite the atrocities they may have committed. Through judgment, historians can steer the public conscious away from dangerous ideas and towards beneficial ones.

    Think about your history class. Wouldn’t it be mortifying to hear your teacher command the class to not pass judgment on the Nazi’s? Presumably followed with an explanation that life in Germany was difficult following the first World War and that their actions were performed under oppressive conditions (high inflation). This scenario is an example of Peixoto’s desire for objectivity. For the benefit of society, we must pass judgment on history.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 9:05 pm       tarap1 Says:

      Though I agree that providing a judgement on events in history is essential to “steering the public conscious from dangerous ideas,” it is not the job of a historian to do so. Historians are valuable because they study history and try to give the most accurate details. It is fact-based. If historians started giving their opinions, it would detract from the accuracy of the historical interpretation. It would be biased. You can’t compare a historian to a history teacher! They have two different jobs. A history teacher gets his or her information from historical interpretations and is therefore entitled to give his or her opinion. A historian has no right to give his or her opinion. However, as a person (not a historian), he or she is entitled.


      • September 16th, 2017 at 11:23 pm       roryh2 Says:

        While I agree that it is important for historians to provide us with accurate and fact-based details, I believe that historians are entitled to pass judgments when explaining atrocities. When discussing historical events such as the Holocaust and slavery, almost everyone agrees that they were despicable. Unfortunately, a small percentage of society (Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, etc.) does not understand the repulsiveness of these events. If historians communicate that there is no moral ground for events rooted in racism and anti-Semitism, it may help eradicate these evils from society.


        • September 17th, 2017 at 2:26 am       tarap1 Says:

          You can have the entire world of historians tell you that slavery was awful. Unfortunately, there will always be a small percentage of society (white supremacists) who will not acknowledge the horrible things done. So whether historians do or do not pass their judgments, it is irrelevant because there will sadly always be that small group that refuses to acknowledge it. Again, I said before that as a person (and not as a historian), a historian is always entitled to give an opinion. However, when giving the facts, it is inappropriate to mix in personal opinions about it.


  7. September 16th, 2017 at 6:42 pm       ryang7 Says:

    In my opinion, Piexoto is partially correct. When initially going over information, historians should try to be as objective as possible. By doing this, they are able to create as clear a picture of the past as possible, or at the very least one not muddled with personal bias. For example, if someone committed armed robbery of a bank, and shot a cop in the leg, the initial judgement call would be to say that this was a malicious attack. However, when later information came in that the robber’s family had been kidnapped, and the only way to release them was to rob a bank, he suddenly becomes an empathetic character. The truth is, though, that complete objectivity is impossible. The concept of confirmation bias is one in which people will subconsciously look for information that goes along with their previous morals and opinions, even while they try to be objective. Even if a historian was just recording information, with no analysis at all, it is still possible for them to only key in on the information supporting their opinions. There are also times at which it is appropriate to make a judgement on a society or activity. This is when there is an abundance of information of all perspectives, and there is clearly a moral corruption. In the cases of horrific events such as the holocaust, slavery, and 9/11, historians have a responsibility to condemn the atrocities committed during said events. The major consequence of not clearly stating the inhumanity in some societies, for fear of losing objectivity, is that their horrors could come back to the present, unchallenged, in the name of “tradition.”


    • September 16th, 2017 at 7:51 pm       ianz Says:

      I completely agree that a healthy balance of objectivity and subjectivity is important when analyzing past events. I also really like your example with the bank robber. Do you think if Pieixoto was given multiple accounts of Gilead he would have a change in view? and if so, can we trust the bank robber’s story? All of these questions need to be taken into account before an opinion is put forth but overall you made a very nice point about different points of view.


  8. September 16th, 2017 at 7:13 pm       liamm3 Says:

    Professor Piexieto depicts the people who were forced to live under the Gileadean regime complicit in their abuse. He engages in a sick victim blaming by suggesting that the society, as a whole, was accepting of the new power structure. I’m not sure which transcription he had, but it seems pretty clear to me from the transcription that I read that Offered was not complicit in her enslavement. Imagine Mr. Kiernan telling an APUSH class that it was acceptable for the antebellum southern aristocracy to have slaves because there were tensions between the planter class and the yeoman class, and the slaves should have done something if they didn’t want to be enslaved. Mr. Kiernan would lose his job. Professor Piexioto should lose his tenure. It is simply unacceptable to blame slaves for their enslavement. We have to censure past events. Without censure we cannot make progress. Without censure we allow history to repeat itself. Without censure we block innocent voices. Without censure we pardon oppressors.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 9:09 pm       ryang7 Says:

      You make an extremely important point by comparing Pieixoto to Mr. Kiernan. When speaking of how objective a historian must be while looking at the past, especially with little evidence, wanting to not let personal bias interfere is more than reasonable. Pieixoto, however, is more than a historian, he is a teacher. In such a position, the responsibility of instilling basic human morality on the content is put upon him. The allegory of the ivory tower fits perfectly here. Pieixoto is not just a man alone, looking through old documents to see what they say; he is speaking to a large group of students over whom he has great influence. By actively telling them not to pass judgement on Gilead, the professor is complicit in showing these young men and women that such horrible actions will not come with ramifications. This is perhaps more dangerous than if they were to just have let Gilead fade from the world’s memory.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 10:38 pm       tarap1 Says:

      Sorry Liam. You cannot compare a history teacher to a historian. They have two different jobs!


  9. September 16th, 2017 at 7:45 pm       ianz Says:

    I think that a historian’s job is to understand what happened and be able to make connections and draw possible conclusions.Professor Pieixoto does this relatively well when relating “infertility” to “birth control of various kinds”, “the R-strain syphilis”, and “the infamous AIDS epidemic”.(304) But even in his explanation he becomes hypocritical as he refers to Gilead’s “racist policies”.(305) It is difficult for any human to learn of a civilization where there were what some would consider strange or cruel actions taking place. Time between events is important as well. Historians in today’s world have hard time explaining how Nazis or plantation owners were a product of their time while it is easier for people to understand that the ancient Egyptians used slaves to build pyramids. As past events get further from the present we begin to distance ourselves from those event. Although the Khmer Rouge ended in 1979 and is in the past  there are people alive right now who have been directly impacted by the viciousness of Pol Pot. In 500 years, however, there will be no one who really understands what happened and people’s views will become more objective. I believe Atwood included Peixoto to show that no one can really be entirely objective. Even if Pieixoto does not realize a bias he holds for Gilead it is still present. She may also be making a comment on historians and urging them to formulate opinions. Pieixoto is clearly not afraid of something like the Gileadean age ever happening again but Atwood’s warning reminds of us of the phrase “history repeats itself” and historians being the individuals who know the most of our history should be more active in condemning the bad and praising the good despite how far away it may seem.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 9:03 pm       devp1 Says:

      Ian, if I’m not mistaken, you are asserting that historians have a duty to analyze history objectively, but it is impossible to block out all subjectivity. That is something I wholeheartedly agree with. Like I mentioned in my blog post earlier, it is human nature to form opinions and judge both current and historical events. However, historians must be careful to complete their job of understanding historical events before moralizing about them. What would we be without our opinions and moral compasses? Humankind would never progress, and all of the worst parts of history would be sure to repeat. I’m sure Atwood revealed her opinion on the matter: society would regress into one governed by repression and secrecy – as we have seen numerous times throughout history – if the people do not look to the past as examples for the future. You made a great point, Ian!


  10. September 16th, 2017 at 9:29 pm       tarap1 Says:

    I’m surprised how everyone thinks it is valid for a historian to give his or her opinion on historical interpretations. Guys, is it not the goal of a historian to give the most accurate portrayal of what happened? By giving an opinion along with a historical interpretation, it is biased and detracts from the value of an accurate account. By giving an opinion, a historian leads people astray from the truth. Look at Irving’s description of Columbus from The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus. “Columbus was a man of great and inventive genius… he sought to colonize and cultivate them, to civilize the natives . . . A valiant and indignant spirit . . . a visionary of an uncommon kind.” By calling Columbus “a man of great and inventive genius,” it takes away the horrible things he had done. In his account, Irving dismisses his mistakes as “errors of the times.” Even today, many people are unaware of Columbus’s atrocious actions. It is the job of a historian to give the facts and our job to judge it.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 1:28 am       amandag3 Says:

      Tara, I think your argument is valid, especially with regard to Columbus. However, I disagree with the idea that historians provide facts and we make judgements based on those facts. If historians do not portray events such as genocides, terror attacks, etc. as negative, then we would never learn from our mistakes. Someone has to make the judgement, and historians should do so. I understand that a historian’s opinion can add more bias to a situation, so I think they should be as objective as possible. Yet, there are certain situations where being objective is merely the same as saying what happened is ok to happen again. Who knows what would have happened after the Holocaust if historians did not analyze it and come to the conclusion that it can never happen again? Would hate crimes go unpunished today? I agree with some points you bring up; however; I have to disagree because I think it is imperative for historian’s to analyze/interpret historical events.


      • September 17th, 2017 at 2:35 am       tarap1 Says:

        As a historian, your job=facts. That is the whole point of a historian. Like Joseph said below, we live in an age with manipulation everywhere (media, government, etc.) The only thing we have left is historians to give us accurate details. That’s what makes them so valuable. Obviously, if a historian wants to express his opinion, he is entitled. However, he should do so as an outsider and not as a historian. You can’t mix facts with opinions. I agree with you that someone needs to make the judgment, but I don’t think that is the job of a historian.


        • September 17th, 2017 at 2:47 pm       wynnums2 Says:

          Tara, I agree with Amanda. Without some element of judgment how is society to see what is right and wrong? I disagree with you that facts and opinions from a historian cannot mix. I believe historians have the right to interpret knowledge and formulate opinions. Without judgement there would be no use in analyzing history. Everything we know would be based off our sole “understand[ing]” of facts. There would be no room to distinguish between the dark spots of the past that should never be repeated and the brighter aspects that can inspire improvements in society. I think there is value in a historian’s judgement. I think acknowledging this and viewpoints of other historians broadens a reader’s perspective. I believe this is what substantiates the study of history.


          • September 17th, 2017 at 4:15 pm       devp1 Says:

            Wynnum, although I do think you bring up some valid points, you seem to be clouding the question presented to us. Do you not trust in the public’s capacity to make its own decisions? I hope you would, because that is what constitutes a democracy. We have spent countless days discussing the concept of power in a society- who holds it and to what end. If historians have such a wide access to knowledge in a way that most people do not, then should he/she not be careful with this responsibility? I think that such a duty to the public cannot be abused, as each historian’s words will carry weight for generations. Is there a reason you “believe” that these historians can interject their opinions in a historical analysis? The moment a historian thinks that he/she can mix opinions with matter, all historical integrity is lost. Who is to say that all we have learned is truly objective and not manipulated because of bias? Historians do NOT have the responsibility to dictate how others should respond to past events; leave that up to the people themselves. You have mentioned the “dark spots” in history, so I will bring up one concept that comes to mind. It is called propaganda: information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular point of view. Does this remind you of anything we have discussed thus far?


    • September 18th, 2017 at 12:53 am       kriship1 Says:

      Tara you tell a good point on how historians bias hides acts that people don’t like to hear about. It let me connect to the idea of fake news and how it only shows what media finds important. Same way historians can determine what they want history to be by pointing out specific parts of it and ignoring other parts. It makes me thing if todays historians are media companies and news reporters. Its an important subject to address because it frames the way we think. If we don’t know what is wrong it can ruin us in the future. Not understanding bad events in history.


  11. September 16th, 2017 at 10:23 pm       roryh2 Says:

    I disagree with Professor Pieixoto’s description of a historian’s job. While I believe it is important to maintain a level of objectivity when recounting history, there are some events that are simply too horrific to be viewed impartially. The most obvious historical example is the Holocaust. It is impossible to remain objective when discussing Nazi Germany because there is no argument to be made for the genocide of six million Jewish people. Similarly, there are no redeeming qualities to the Republic of Gilead. If the history of Gilead was told through a neutral lense, it would grant moral equivalency between the oppressive regime and the victims of oppression. Also, one can pass moral judgment on an event and still understand why it occurred. For example, slavery existed in the United States to aid in the production of cash crops. Understanding why slavery thrived for multiple centuries in the U.S. does not make it any less of a disgusting stain on American history. We must pass judgment on historical atrocities, such as the Republic of Gilead, to ensure that there is no moral ambivalence towards them.


    • September 16th, 2017 at 10:33 pm       tarap1 Says:

      Rory, I’m curious as to why you think a historian’s opinion is more valuable than the person reading the account. I think you are undermining the ability of a person to read the account and make his or her own opinion. When you learn and read about the genocide of six million Jewish people, don’t you think someone (besides a historian) is smart enough to know that what happened was wrong? I disagree with the fact that you think a historian needs to give his/her opinion. Let us read the facts and interpret that it was wrong- you do not need a historian to tell you it was wrong.


      • September 17th, 2017 at 1:02 am       roryh2 Says:

        I don’t think that a historian’s opinion is more valuable or that people other than historians are incapable of understanding and analyzing history. I think that historians have the right to condemn demonstrable atrocities that have occurred throughout history. Also, I don’t think that a historian “needs” to give their opinion, but rather has the right to in instances where objectivity (Gilead, the Holocaust, etc.) is not really an option.


      • September 17th, 2017 at 8:18 pm       sophiap3 Says:

        Tara, despite agreeing with the idea that historians should remain objective when interpreting history, I think it is unrealistic and impractical to expect no human bias to interfere in how historians view certain events. It is nearly impossible to eliminate all subconscious judgements for any given human being on any given event, which suggests that most of the history we learn, (i.e. the Holocaust, Republic of Gilead, etc.), has some amount of opinion embedded into the education, and furthermore into us. If this human nature were absent, I feel it would cause repetition of past atrocities and a lack of progress into a different, and hopefully brighter future.


  12. September 17th, 2017 at 12:25 am       jennifere1 Says:

    I disagree with Professor Pieixoto who believes that as a historian he should not censure the actions of past people. He recognizes that there are facets of past cultures incomprehensible to him perhaps as a result of the inevitably limited scope through which historians can view the past. However, his dismissal of his duty of a historian to censure the past reveals his academic tendency to distance himself from the subject he studies. A historian should not be entirely objective. As recognized in the cliche, “those who do not study the past are doomed to repeat it.” If historians are completely objective when studying the past, the future will not understand the injustices of the past and will not equates such experiences with their own. Specifically in Offred’s case, she recorded the story of the horrific conditions in which she lived in the hopes of reaching a future audience and informing them about the evils of Gilead. It is an enormous disservice to Offred to uncover and study her tapes but fail to learn from them. Professor Pieixoto recounts facts about Gilead such as the causes of the infertility and the puzzle presented to the historians in trying to discover to whom the pseudonyms refer but he fails to learn the most important message from Offred’s story – the capacity of mankind to descend into such atrocities once again. He fails to apply Offred’s warning to modern day, writing it off as a result of a culture historian’s do not completely understand and missing Offred’s point entirely.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 3:15 am       josephj4 Says:

      I disagree. Not condemning the Sons of Jacob doesn’t mean Piexioto is distancing himself from the subjects he studies, which is Gilead society you are referring to. This is because a Historian isn’t supposed to only study the victims and losers of history. To provide an accurate account of a historical event, a historian is supposed to take into account the winners, losers, offenders, and victims in history. In other words, censuring the authorities of Gilead would mean that Piexioto is only getting closer to the victims of Gilead, and further from knowing the ideology of the Gilead leaders. A reliable account of history is one that attempts to explain every facet of a past civilization. “Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.” If Piexioto were to condemn Gilead, how could he understand the motives and beliefs of the Sons of Jacob that lead them to create a totalitarian theocracy? He must attempt to understand what pushed the Sons of Jacob to act this way so that similar circumstances won’t repeat. He is trying to get to the root of the problem so that he could explain why Sons of Jacob overthrew the United States government. And the “those” who study history aren’t only historians. It is a call to everyone to learn history, so that they can form their own opinions. It’s the role of the government and people to work together to avoid violations of human right, and it’s the role of historians to reveal the sins and the achievements of a civilization. Peixoto doesn’t need to tell us (the audience that heard Offred’s story) that Gilead was an oppressive government. We were able to figure that out by ourselves. His role in the Historical Notes was to analyze Offred’s story from a historical viewpoint, and further our understanding of the situation Gilead society was in.


  13. September 17th, 2017 at 1:03 am       josephj4 Says:

    A historian is telling the audience how he does his own job. How can we question him? It’s like telling a doctor how to fix a broken leg, or telling a teacher how to teach. Although he is a fictional character, he makes a valid claim. In an age when information can be easily manipulated (by the government, media, advocacy groups, etc.) and spread to influence people’s beliefs, it is more critical than ever for historians to provide an objective view of history and recent events. A scholar that puts aside his opinions and recounts a historical event in every viewpoint possible is much more professional than a scholar that leaves out facts and witnesses to support his own beliefs. If a historian was to study a terrible event in history with a biased mindset, he might not portray the motives and beliefs of the offenders, victims, or witnesses in an accurate way. In the case of the Handmaid’s Tale, Piexioto acknowledges that Gilead was a totalitarian system that took away the freedom of many people, and gave power to a privileged few (308). But he also reminds the audience that the Gilead faced a critical problem of a decreasing population, caused by factors such as birth control, STDs, and environmental factors. He provides enough information
    to the audience so that they can form their own opinions. But because of the mystery of past events, it is impossible to stay objective. Piexioto concludes that researching what happened in the past is difficult and some things will never be discovered (311). If he were to explain the ideology of Gilead, he would not be able to remain truly objective unless he actually was a leader in Gilead. He must add his own predictions of what occurred during the Gilead period, but those theories must be based on carefully analyzed evidence.


  14. September 17th, 2017 at 3:23 am       ansat2 Says:

    Though I believe everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I do not believe it is necessary for a historian to say whats just and unjust. For instance, throughout the evolution of history, we have faced countless atrocities, many of which have been mass killings. For example, the Holocaust, a genocide focused predominantly on Jews, because they did not fit the ideal norms of society at the time. However, the events from the Holocaust give no historian the privilege to say if it was morally correct or not because it wasn’t ‘period’. Any reader, spectator, civilian, etc can understand the severity of the situation without a historian’s intake, and understand the prejudice that was involved among the Nazi Party. Moreover, it is a historian’s obligation to retell the past so that “history will not repeat itself.” History is meant to be a story for a reason. It is meant to pave the way to the future, by taking parts of it along the way as lessons, and leaving behind the old. We see in Gilead how many of the past circumstances have led to Gilead being the way it is during Offred’s time. However, the main mistake the Gileadans made was by not learning from their past, but by making ways to prevent the past. In order for a society to flourish, you do not try to push away the past, but learn from its past mistakes, so that they will not happen again.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 9:59 pm       Siegler Says:

      I agree. After reading your response, I have changed my idea of a historian simply recounting the past to also informing people in the present so that we do not make the same mistakes again. We hear the phrase “history repeats itself” all the time, and it is our job to not let negative history repeat itself as much as we can. I find it interesting that in the historical notes it states that a historian should be objective and not judge or integrate his/her opinions into their recounting of historical events, because the more I think about it, the more The Handmaid’s Tale seems like Margaret Atwood recounting history and warning us to not let it happen again. If this is the case, it completely contradicts the stance on whether historians should be completely objective or not expressed in the historical notes.


  15. September 17th, 2017 at 12:05 pm       dianag2 Says:

    While I agree that objectivity is vital when recounting events from the past, as historians do, subjective viewpoints are needed for understanding. If all historians who worked on analyzing the tape recordings of Offred’s story were objective, there would only be one opinion on the events that took place. Rather than seeing everything as only facts, a historian’s job is to pull information from past events and logically piece evidence together to formulate possible conclusions, which is why not every historian has the same opinion on events. The space for interpretation allows historians to have their own judgements. With that being said, judgments made about a particular event raises a way to further understand a person’s perspective. If someone claims that the events in Gilead were appalling and unnecessary, his/her opinion would be needed for individuals to understand his claim. While I do agree with Pieixoto that a historian must “understand,” I very much disagree with his statement that historians should not “censure.” If a historian disapproves of something, then he/she should be able to have that opinion.


  16. September 17th, 2017 at 2:17 pm       wynnums2 Says:

    I think it is critical for a historian to formulate opinions. In order to draw conclusions from the past, there must be an element of subjectivity. I do not think a historian’s job can only consist of objectivity. If so, then they would be no different than spitting out information from a textbook. Although it is important to retell past events without bias, no advances in society can be made by only “understand[ing]” history. Subjectivity contributes to analysis. History is analyzed in order to prevent society from making the same mistakes from years before. If there were no “moral judgment[s]” on events in the past , this would mean tyranny, genocide, terrorism, and countless other atrocities were “understandable”. There would be no capability to make the world a safer place. If a historian’s job was to only look at history through an objective viewpoint, he or she would not be able to present the facts in a way that incoming generations can improve upon society’s errors.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 5:48 pm       jennar4 Says:

      I completely agree. A historian that excludes subjectivity entirely is failing to do do his/her job. Is the point of history to create a simple timeline of events? Would any historical reflection be worth anything without considering the effects of each event? History is meant to teach people about the past, not just “what” but “why”. The most important job of historians is to analyze and react to the past. Judgments, as you said, are necessary to “improve” upon the past.


  17. September 17th, 2017 at 2:19 pm       jennar4 Says:

    Professor Pieixoto’s philosophy regarding history is ignorant and impossible. The idea that one can remove subjectivity in history altogether, especially in the case of Offred’s emotionally charged personal record of her suffering, is blasphemous. Moral conscience is a characteristic of human nature. To strive for complete neutrality would be to look for something that isn’t there. Historians may, and should, do their best to withhold judgement until all evidence has been studied to create a complete and accurate view of the past. However, this does not mean that sacrificing morality for the sake of an un-biased account is acceptable. There is no such thing as an un-biased portrayal of history. Both those recording and those viewing history seek to cast judgement, and the absence of an opinion holds just as much weight as the presence of one. Failing to condemn atrocities is just one way of facilitating them. Any view of history that excludes moral reflections would be inaccurate. History cannot be studied as a simple sequence of events; even when these events were taking place there was always a reaction, always people being affected by the actions of others. History is so much more complex then a timeline. It is an intricate narrative of events, people, opinions, actions, and reflections. This is precisely why the study of history is so difficult. Perspective plays an enormous role in the recording of historical events; each different perspective can include a completely different takeaway and yet be perfectly correct. It is with a balance of these ideas and variety in interpretations that we can piece together a complete view of what happened. Moral judgement is the key to fully “understanding” history.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 4:40 pm       joannes2 Says:

      That was well said, Jenna. It is challenging to understand just how complex history is. The time we are living in now will eventually be history, and from just my perspective, I am often overwhelmed by events that occur in America. When that potency is multiplied by 200 other countries, it is a daunting task to present and future historians. When we confine history to a timeline, it is diminutive; America’s place on that timeline is so negligible in comparison. An unimaginable amount has happened in just over 200 years, events that generate such powerfully charged emotions. These beliefs are replicated globally and have been for thousands of years so that it is overall unfair to expect historians to fully shut out their opinions.


  18. September 17th, 2017 at 3:53 pm       joannes2 Says:

    Joking about the oppression, Pieixoto makes remarks that are self-satisfying and appalling. He seeks only to “understand” Gilead; however, his method of doing so is echoed back to the reader as a sickening passivity after Offred’s detailed narrative. A historian’s job is to interpret the past, the events that have shaped where we are today. Naturally, there will be some bias; a historian cannot entirely forgo his/her moral compass. While assessing an event, a historian should try to eliminate prejudgement; although, a total rejection is impractical. Opinions can be communicated without outwardly stating so; it can unknowingly occur through a person’s language choice (i.e. choosing a word that has a negative connotation). Also, how can we expect historians to remain entirely neutral when history itself is biased? As Napoleon Bonaparte, a leader debated for his heroic or tyrannical acts, stated, “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” Historians are not given all accounts of an event; therefore, their assessments are already unwholesome. Moreover, since bias is assumed, other individuals can consider this in their readings. In response, they can use multiple interpretations or real accounts of an event to gain a wider range of opinion. In addition, shutting out all judgment poses the risk of condoning horrific events, like Pieixoto has done. If society passively accepts atrocities, a desensitized population emerges. As a result, it seems as though there are limited consequences to actions, wherein the future, cruelty is disregarded as a feature of the times. However, there is severe danger in making blame relative.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 5:48 pm       lindseya4 Says:

      I love how you included a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte because it is a good reminder of just how long the role of historians has been in question. The way in which you wrote this also struck me as important because yes, in a perfect world, historians probably should remain objective, but in reality this is impossible. It did seem as if the government’s actions in the novel were condoned because of the absence of the historian’s two cents.


    • September 18th, 2017 at 12:47 am       alanahm2 Says:

      I also recognize the frustration caused by an objective interpretation of the events in Gilead, as having been with Offred all throughout her journey and having had first hand insight into what she went through, we want nothing more than for the circumstances in Gilead to be portrayed accurately. It is for reasons such as this that I think blind objectivity has the ability to damage the portrayal of past events and negatively impact how history is written.


  19. September 17th, 2017 at 4:39 pm       ericcheng Says:

    I think it’s important for a historian to remain objective when re-telling history. I support this idea because while there are clear rights and wrongs when looking back at history, it should not be a historian’s job to sway the audience to a certain side. I think a historians job is plain out to be re-stating history as it occurred. Historians don’t get paid to state their opinions in their text, they get paid to assert the facts in a historical event. It should be up to the readers on how they want to interpret a historical event and to form their own opinion. My reasoning for a historian to be objective when re-telling history is because if two historians from different countries tell a historical event with their opinions and emotions attached, then the readers within those countries would be influenced to a certain side. Then there could be people from across the globe arguing about the same event with different information, in which some information could be wrong since if the historians used opinions, they could have exaggerated or added extra information that did not necessarily occur. Meanwhile, if there was one globally objective viewpoint that everyone accepted, then people could construct their own subjective opinions from there with everyone having the same correct information. The possible consequences for only “understanding” and not judging is that history catastrophic events could easily be repeated throughout different time periods. Though I think it is up to the readers to not let events repeat themselves in history, it should not be one historian telling a whole population on what to think or act. However, I do understand in some historical events it is important for the historian to be subjective because some events are too powerful to only state facts, and some emotions will be tied to those events, such as world war two and the Vietnam war.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 7:29 pm       benm2 Says:

      I agree with the idea historians should stay objective. They should only state historical fact rather than use that information to sway audiences towards their beliefs. I also agree with your point that opinions could cause a historian to exaggerate certain details or omit certain details in order to convince others to agree with him. Everyone has their own unique sense of morality and I believe that individuals should be left to interpret history and develop their own opinions without the outside influence of those who explain the history to them.


    • September 18th, 2017 at 1:18 am       graced2 Says:

      Although I think that historians should form an opinion on the events they study, reading your comment made me realize that not all historians are always going to agree on the morality of a certain event. It is important to recognize that no matter what, people are going to interpret what they read differently, but if there are so many historians giving their opinion on their version of the events, the true story may be hard to piece together. I also agree that you cannot hold one person responsible for the entire audience and how they react to the history.


  20. September 17th, 2017 at 5:39 pm       lindseya4 Says:

    Professor Pieixto’s analysis of historians’ role is narrow-minded. Historians’ job should not only be to understand, but also to draw conclusions and formulate opinions. If literary critics can make a living understanding and critiquing works of literature, why can’t historians do the same with history? Argument is a fundamental aspect of society, so if individuals are unable to argue their opinions of historical events against those of notable professionals, individual opinions are of little value. Argument encourages individuals to become passionate about their beliefs, so if historians cannot formulate opinions, there is no one to pave the way for new passions for history.
    If historians were to have simply pieced together the events leading up to and surrounding the Holocaust, as opposed to condemning it as a moral injustice, who’s to say that it wouldn’t occur again? Historians are responsible for not only informing citizens of historical events, but also for imbedding memories of such events into society’s mind. Simply stating the facts is ineffective in leaving a lasting impression. If historians defer the responsibility of passing judgments to society, they are allowing history to slip through the minds of our posterity.
    Historians are the keepers of our future; they are responsible for preventing history from repeating itself by educating the public on historical atrocities. Taking a stance on these atrocities subsequently plants a seed in the minds of society and cautions them to be wary of reoccurring historical events. Though historians should initially be objective in piecing together the events of the past, they should be subjective in viewing history through the lens of our current society.


  21. September 17th, 2017 at 5:54 pm       caseym2 Says:

    In my opinion, to clearly understand the past you need to have both a literal and emotional connection to it. I see how in some cases one must need to be objective when they look at history to accurately report the facts of the incident. Different time periods throughout the history of our country still spark very heated debates because of the emotional attachments that are still connected to the issues. As the one and only Liam “Two Shirt” McGuirk pointed out in his post, the monument debate has questioned the idea of altering history to appease certain groups throughout our country. The erasing of the stained glass windows in Harvard University almost implies that we as a nation can “erase” our connection to the brutal racist past that even the most educated of our society participated in. To connect it to the topic today, it is almost impossible to completely detach oneself emotionally from the past because of the relationship that the past has to us today. It is the job of a historian to “sway” their audience because the historian possesses the MOST information on the subject matter at hand. I live by the mantra “Don’t talk about things you do not know”. If you do not know about the situation that motivated said actions then you cannot begin to comment about it. These historians know the most information about such topics and have every right to reflect on them. It is their job as historians and our job as a civilization to evaluate the circumstances of the past and judge if we should use them in the future.


  22. September 17th, 2017 at 7:22 pm       benm2 Says:

    I agree with the idea that a historian should only try to understand history objectively and not attempt to cast judgements. Opinions are based on one’s understanding of right and wrong. A historian cannot create opinions that accurately reflect the time period he is discussing because his concept of right and wrong is different from those of the people of the time period. Present day circumstances are very different from those of the past. Likewise, everyone has been raised with some form of bias that would skew their opinions on such events. While I do believe that a historian should try to interpret history in an entirely objective manner, I do not believe it is possible to completely objective. It is too difficult to ignore all experience and outside influences to be entirely objective. One possible consequence of a historian only “understanding” and not judging is that bad events in history could repeat themselves. While I believe that people should interpret history on their own, some events are morally incorrect regardless of circumstances and they should be mentioned so they are avoided in the future.


  23. September 17th, 2017 at 8:00 pm       sophiap3 Says:

    While I do agree that a historian’s job is to objectively examine history, one cannot dismiss the human nature to “censure”. Professor Pieixoto, on the other hand, contradicts himself in the description of his job, as he, for one, does not stay objective, making entirely offensive and repulsive remarks about Offred’s story, and Gilead as a whole. In making those “jokes” he ignores his own philosophy to remain neutral. Although historians should try to remain as unbiased as they can, despite human nature to judge, they certainly should not be so ungrateful, and ignore and mock the social strife and struggle of those that came before them. They should take the information and facts about the past failures, to guide the future and make sure previous mistakes are not remade. Taking reality into account, it is impossible to eliminate all prejudices and opinions when interpreting any foreign cultures, and the danger in raining neutral would be the repetition of global and individual mistakes, a lack of progress in the human race to move forward and invent the future. Historians hold a special gift, one which can link the past with the future, and pave the way for future socio-politics.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 8:27 pm       oliviam3 Says:

      You are right about the importance of historians. I never viewed them as having special gift as you point out but I think that is a great way to put it. I too found it very contradictory of Professor Pieixoto to make jokes while trying to say neutral. I, however, disagree with your point that the a historian’s job is to objectively examine history. You go onto to make the point that remaining neutral could lead to repetition of global mistake, which I agree with. For that reason, I think it is necessary to use some emotion while examining history and therefore a historian job can not just be to objectively examine history.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 9:22 pm       michaelam Says:

      I agree with Sophia in that a historian does hold a “special gift” to connect the past and the future. Their perspective helps us to develop our own and to establish in our mind what we feel was right or wrong. Of course there may be religious morals that might sway our decisions; however, as a society we look to the historians to give the truth and to help us form our own beliefs.


  24. September 17th, 2017 at 8:07 pm       sandraj2 Says:

    I support that historians should not be making judgments because that does lead to bias facts being spread around and eventually can turn into what we believe as facts. But on the other hand, when researching and finding new things about the past but without having any opinions about the past, it remains as just facts and can only be repeated and not used to better the future. The potential consequences to seeking to understand and not to judge is that without making judgments there is no insight in the value to the actual occurrence. I also believe that an absolutely objective representation of history is rare. In picking and choosing which elements are more and less important, and which standpoint on the topic is being heard also has to be accounted for. It is impossible to escape this pattern of information being affected by different bias. Although history is not always objective, incomplete or bias in the research does not make it worthless, it just means that when you read any piece of information, you need to be mindful of the background of the writer, and when and why such article was written.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 11:40 pm       ericcheng Says:

      I agree with Sandra’s point of where the reader has to be mindful of the author’s background because that leads to an understanding of why and how a certain history piece is written. A person’s background can play a big factor in which how an article sways to a certain viewpoint. I also support the idea of how it is impossible to escape historical information that is biased modern day because events do need to be subjective to a certain extent to prevent events from repeating again.


      • September 18th, 2017 at 12:15 am       priscillam2 Says:

        I agree that an absolutely objective representation of history is rare. I think that no matter how hard an individual tries to remain 100% unbiased, their opinion will prevail. Although it may be discreetly embedded into their text, it will still show. I also think it’s a great point you made that the reader should be mindful of the background of the writer, when and why the article was written, because I feel like today, most people don’t do research before reading a historical passage; but rather they just assume the author is being objective.


  25. September 17th, 2017 at 8:11 pm       oliviam3 Says:

    It is without a doubt that Anne Frank’s diary is of the most well-known accounts of life as a Jew in the Holocaust. Her diary describes the months her and her family spent in hiding before ultimately being caught. Through her perspective we can see the fear she felt and the dreadful experiences she had to endure. As very few people survived the Holocaust with a story to tell like Anne’s, the importance and significance of her story increases. If historians were to take an objective view on her story it would not have the same effect. Historians could have said that since none of them had endure such hardships as Anne Frank did or had the same beliefs has she, they could not make judgment on it. Instead they analyzed it with emotion. They were able to show the horrible acts of the Nazis and put forth efforts to stop them and any like acts. It is impossible, and would not be right, for all historians to always evaluate objectively. Without using some emotion and ‘judging’ the situation one could not learn. If historians only read the hardships of Anne Frank and did not connect on a level to see that what the Nazi did was monstrous and sinful, another Holocaust like situation would most likely happen again.


    • September 17th, 2017 at 9:43 pm       sandraj2 Says:

      I agree that historians need to use judgement when analyzing a finding from the past. Without it, no one would be able to use the findings in the future to learn from. But on the other hand, when historians are going in trying to research, they should not be judging the situation in which they do not know what they could possibly find. Historians are humans and it is normal for them to go into a case having a predetermined result of what they are looking for but the readers of the articles need to be able to differentiate the difference between fact and the author’s opinion and also be able to have background knowledge on the possible bias that could be in the articles.


  26. September 17th, 2017 at 8:47 pm       michaelam Says:

    I support that a historian should “judge” history. While it is important to be factually accurate, it is also crucial to give both sides of an argument. I think that the best way to learn from history is to compare how people felt in the past to how people feel in the present. Because historians have the power to alter our opinions based on the information they reveal, it is important that they present facts accurately while including their own opinion. For instance, I think in the presentation of facts in a textbook, it should all be un-biased. Then, in sections of the textbook, there should be multiple historians’ opinions that “judge” the past recounts of history, such as from primary sources. There is no excuse to repeat horrible atrocities that have occurred in the past, so it is up to historians to offer all of their resources. There are definitely historians either in the past or the present who have opinions differing from what an individual believes in(like the controversy over keeping Columbus Day), which is why it is necessary to share the facts. To learn from history, we need to have multiple perspectives; however, we also need the truth.


  27. September 17th, 2017 at 9:50 pm       Siegler Says:

    To me, when I think of a “historian,” I think of somebody who recounts happenings of the past and analyzes those happenings. It is very difficult to analyze anything, not limited to history, without having your opinion bleed through at least a little bit. The only way a historian could be completely objective is if they were to look at “both sides of the equation,” so to speak. At certain times, this is possible. If comparing and contrasting Athens to Sparta, for example, a historian may have an opinion as to which he/she likes more or thought was a more successful society, but would likely still be able to look at both civilizations and identify characteristics about both of them that are better than the other, accurately and objectively comparing the two. However in some situations, objectivity is virtually impossible. Granted, there are some extremists (as we have seen recently), but how likely is it that somebody is going to side with the Axis Powers over the Allied Powers when analyzing WWII, or even consider that the Axis powers were in the right about some things? (No pun intended). It is not possible to look at every situation in history objectively, and while most of the time, if you are looking to get accurate representation on historical events it is more optimal to have an objective first perception, this is not always the case. Being objective about everything and not making a distinction between what you believe is right or wrong can be dangerous. If you do not do the thinking, other people will do it for you, which is exactly what happened in Gilead. (Timestamp 5:50 PM, Sunday 9/17, just in case the system messes up again)


  28. September 18th, 2017 at 12:09 am       priscillam2 Says:

    I almost completely agree with Professor Pieixoto. I believe that a historian’s job is to not embed his or her personal beliefs, but rather to give an honest portrayal of the events that occurred. However, as we all know, there is no way of a historian understanding completely the historical events that they’re explaining, if they weren’t physically there. Although I do not believe that there should be any biased when writing historical events, it is impossible for a historian to not subtly embed their own beliefs into their writings. Even though they may not even recognize that they’re doing so, I believe that their opinion will emerge regardless. In a perfect world, yes I do think that a historian should be entirely objective because if they aren’t, millions of people could believe historical “facts” from this one perspective. However, in reality, I think it’s close to impossible for a historian to be 100% unbiased in their writings, for it is human nature to make judgments, and they will prevail through his or her writings. I believe that it is the historian’s job to deliver accurate, unbiased details of history, and it is up to the reader’s job to interpret the factual information however they feel. I’m surprised that everyone believes that historians should put their opinions in, because I strongly feel that history is history. It’s factual evidence, with no outside opinion influenced. The consequence; however, of only seeking to “understand” and not judge is that if no one ever had opinions about history, it is inevitable that the past will repeat itself. I just believe that these opinions should be left for the audience to make; not the historians.


  29. September 18th, 2017 at 12:40 am       alanahm2 Says:

    I think to ask humans to abandon their humanity in order to attain a level of accuracy is an unreasonable and unrealistic request. Trying to relinquish such an innate quality leads to fabricated sentiments. To fully comprehend the actions of past humans one must not discard their empathy but rather utilize it to its full capacity, for it is the subjectivity of past people that influenced history. I do, however, recognize the destruction caused by the consideration of a singular thought. This is where the value of debate and the diversity of opinions comes into play, for it is varied thought that allows for the best chance to achieve accuracy. Information can be interpreted in different ways, both by the giver and the receiver. In order to understand what it is that the primary source meant to convey, many opinions must be considered and weighed against the facts. In terms of the historians analyzing the occurrences in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” a lack of intuition would result in inauthentic portrayal of the events that took place throughout the novel. History is a pure perception of events, both in the moment and centuries after. It is for this reason that people must apply the instincts instilled in their nature to decipher such messages, for it is human nature that remains constant.


  30. September 18th, 2017 at 12:46 am       kriship1 Says:

    I believe in most cases historians should not be objective. However i believe its because of our emotions and opinions we can classify historical events and determine their significances instead of just considering them as events in time. We determine whats good from bad by showing our emotions to actions. Without it all events would be the same and we wold see no progression in time. Having some opinions and emotions helps historians develop understanding of complex events in history. It allows them to characterize events and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. At the same time it is important for a historian to be objective. Historians must find the line to how much emotion they can put in their understanding of historical events.
    Bias doesn’t allow fair understanding and will cause multiple historians to disagree with each other. Being objective allows all historians to come to a common conclusion. However, debate is needed for a proper understanding of history. Debate its what allows people to open up to new ideas and lets people better understand points of view. Also history is always bias. People are bias in their actions and don’t like to be swayed.


  31. September 18th, 2017 at 1:09 am       graced2 Says:

    I think that in order to be a good historian you should be able to explain history in an objective way, however it is also important to condemn the past if need be. Of course, over time culture is going to shift its traditions and what could have been wrong at one point might be widely accepted at another point, but that makes it all the more important to form an opinion about the events being studied. If your goal as a historian is simply to chronologize history without forming any judgement of the belief systems and government of the time, then you are saying nothing of the civilization you in which you live now. I also find it interesting that there are many double standards on what you are and aren’t allowed to pass judgement on today. I’m sure in the future there will be historians who study the 2010’s and they will be able to point out hypocrisies in our own culture that we cannot detect today, or maybe they will be arguing for the same problems that are very relevant and apparent to us. If one seeks purely to understand and not to judge then the tragedy is doomed to continue.


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