Over the past 50 years, the influence of visuals has impacted society with greater frequency. No subject is immune from the power of visual culture, and this fact becomes especially pronounced with regards to history and historical discourse. Where once the study of the past was books and printed articles, the environment has changed and students now enter the lecture hall with a sense of history that has been gleaned from television, film, photography, and other new media. They come to understand history based on what they have seen and heard, not what they have read.
What are the implications of this process, this visualization of history? Mark Moss discusses the impact of visuals on the study of history with an examination of visual culture and the future of print. Recognizing the visual bias of the younger generations and using this as a starting point for teaching history is a critical component for reaching students. By providing an analysis of photography, film, television, and computer culture, Moss uses the Holocaust as an historical case study to illustrate the ways in which visual culture can be used to bring about an awareness of history, as well as the potential for visual culture becoming a driving force for social and cultural change.
Mark Moss —
Mark Moss is chair of general arts and science in the Faculty of Business at Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario.
1 Visual Culture and Historical Consciousness
2 Media, Memory, and History
3 The Future and Past of Print Culture
4 Photographing History
5 Visions of the Past: Film and History
6 Televising History
7 The Process of Holocaust Commemoration in the Media Age
8 Computer Technology and History
Moss, Mark. Toward the visualization of history: the past as image. Lexington Books, 2008. 255p bibl index afp ISBN 0-7391-2437-4; ISBN 9780739124376. Reviewed in 2009jun CHOICE.
Moss (Seneca College, Toronto) offers a broad survey of the role of static and moving images in current historical education. There are individual chapters on visual culture and historical consciousness, the evolution of print culture, photography, film, television, and the new media. The author also devotes special attention to the portrayal of the Holocaust in the media. Each chapter derives its best insights from a broad range of scholarship. Indeed, at times the book reads like a review essay. In his introduction, Moss recounts how he came to understand the role of modern media in the lives of contemporary students. He confesses, however, that he is "not a huge fan of technology. I am a traditionalist" (x). This admission may help explain why so many obvious points strike him as revelatory: "memory plays a vital role in the interpretation of history" (51); "film can perpetuate distortions and even outright falsehoods" (133); "the impact of television is vast" (145); "the influence of the computer and all its manifestations has grown with every passing year" (191). This book will appeal to readers coming to its subject matter for the first time.
Summing Up: Recommended. General and undergraduate libraries. -- D. L. LeMahieu, Lake Forest College