History and Film

Considering the intersection between film and the discipline of history, a well-respected historian of early modern Europe, Natalie Zemon Davis, wrote, “…historical films should let the past be the past.” In contrast, historian and film scholar Robert Rosenstone argued that the “…best of historical films…can intersect with, comment upon, and add something to the lager discourse of history out of which they grow and to which they speak.” Using Rosenstone’s article, “The History Film as a Mode of Historical Thought” from Week 1, discuss the ways in which historical films can inform (or not inform) history and add (or not add) to historical discourse about the past. You can agree or disagree with any of Rosenstone’s key points about film as an important contribution to historical thought. Draw from at least three course films to support your discussion.

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