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ERIC Number: EJ791659
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
Harnessing the Potential in Historiography and Popular Culture when Teaching the Crusades
Hayes, Dawn Marie
History Teacher, v40 n3 p349-362 May 2007
The Crusades are among the few medieval events with which most students have familiarity. However, during these days of heightened tensions in the Middle East, for many the Crusades have taken on an urgency as a distant historical phenomenon that speaks powerfully to present religious and political concerns. This helps explain why in 2005, two highly visible productions on the subject appeared for popular audiences. Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven", a major motion film by Twentieth Century Fox, was released during the first half of the year. Then, in November, the History Channel aired "The Crusades: Crescent and the Cross". Releases such as these can be both a blessing and a curse for history teachers. They are a blessing because they will undoubtedly stoke the interest of many student viewers and engage them on some level. They can be a curse though, too, because if they miss the mark, those same students will be left with impressions that instructors will have to labor against for years to come. The author has experimented with a number of pedagogic approaches for teaching the Crusades and would like to share the ones she has found most fruitful, mainly drawn from a course entitled "Medieval European Civilization," an upper-level undergraduate course which she taught in the fall 2005 term. The course covers the period in Europe's history from approximately 500-1500 CE. With the two recently-released productions in mind, she decided that while she would still work to provide students with a firm historical foundation, this time she would emphasize the historiography of the Crusades. She believes this emphasis plays a crucial role in teaching the Crusades to today's students and underscores that, although good history is rooted in primary source evidence, professional and amateur historians inevitably interpret those sources in different ways. In other words, historiography emphasizes that representations of history--both textual and visual--are subject to the biases of the men and women who create them. This is a fact that many students of history do not understand. (Contains 19 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A