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History as an art form

September 01, 2007

Re "History can sing too," Opinion, Aug. 26

Richard Pells' article on present-day academia's focus on social history over social culture succeeds in illustrating America's fascination with the factual and definite and, subsequently, its hesitation with the artistic and the relative.

As American universities are giving more importance to historical facts, such as when African American slavery began and under what conditions, they are simultaneously devaluing equally important knowledge, such as the revolutionary effects of Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

For future generations to truly know about America's history, they must be exposed to the historical facts as well as the cultural effects of these historical facts. It is only then that the full picture is drawn and understood.

It's embarrassing to think that students today know more about Paris Hilton than Ernest Hemingway.

Adriana Dermenjian

Los Angeles

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A distinguished professor wrings his hands: "How can students be expected to have heard of any preeminent American artists and actors if their history professors never mention them in class?" I'm astounded and appalled. Reluctant as I am to toot my own horn, I believe I'm familiar enough with hundreds of preeminent artists and actors without having heard one word about any of them, ever, in a history class. Help! Am I unique? Could there be others out there like me?

Lorenzo Semple Jr.

Los Angeles

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