Blog Post #7 – Final History Symposium

One of the symposiums which I selected for this morning was the event where Bruce O’Brien hosted three speakers to give their own presentations. In room 210 of Monroe Hall, O’Brien christened it to be the fourth session of the day. To give an introduction, O’Brien opened the floor up to the three presentations under their topics and then stated that they would have an open discussion at the end of each presentation for questions.

My thoughts on these presentations are that the ones who prepared the longest and in the most copious of amounts were the easiest to tell. The first two speakers knew well what they were discussing and beyond the mere substance of the information, they knew exactly how to organize it and format at it in a way which would be understandable and chunked to the audience. Meanwhile, the third and final speaker for the fourth session in room 210 had gone off on a tangent of examples while also completely ignoring O’Brien who had signaled to him repeatedly that he had only one minute remaining in his presentation.

I noticed that these presentations took a decent amount of research. The first presentation was a female who did her work on the representation of the Armenian Genocide in the newspapers of the New York Times. According to her, she had read over twenty-five different articles and observed the choice of word which the paper had used. I feel as though that one of the takeaways from watching these presentations, is that the amount of research which goes into this is tantamount to the product. I also felt as though that being an audience member and watching the performance was but the tip of the iceberg, for the real process had been all the studying and developing of the thesis over and over again.

Throughout all three of the presentations, I had noticed quite simply that practice made perfect and that the quantity of research was merely one pivotal point which propelled the speaker to give a summation on what they had gained knowledge on. My ultimate thoughts are that I found the 485 presentations to be a duality or cross-stitched performance of practicing rehearsals and studying information.

Blog Post #5: Oral P

I find Oral Presentations to be quite fun. They end up testing and demonstrating a lot of abilities. Preparation, organization, good diction, and writing skills. I have never been a good test-taker and so I love proving my abilities through performances such as these.
I prepare for Oral Presentations by putting together a script and then doing a few ‘run-throughs’ of it. I focus on diction and movement, since I pace a lot due to a lot of energy. I have been told to grip that and do it with intent so I am not too loose in my movement.
Any lessons and tips I have learned from other presentations would be build-up and crescendo. This is also known as ‘vocal variety’. I have seen the greatest presentations come in with something that has a hook and then proceed to rise, rise, and rise with the audience. They also engage them and I think audience engagement is important.

Blog Post #4

The academic databases I find most helpful in my research would be UMW’s ‘Library’ tool on their main page, specifically ‘Quest’. This sub-site pretty much does it all for me, with generating citations and having a plethora of exceptional sites. I can find just about anything on here. Much of the results are easy access, I can take a quick look at first chapters or the like. I would consider this accessibility a business-strength. One weakness is that it is hooked up to UMW, which is perhaps another reason why professors sing the praises of JStore so heavily- JStor can appeal to a general audience.

The databases I find most challenging are sites like JStor. Perhaps, to some extent, this is why professors recommend it. There is a very real learning curve, as it does not show much other than the results given and the results need be incredibly specific when one types them in initially. There is also no way ‘citation maker’ on this right away (one needs to scroll down) and the page’s design is very vapid. Much of the books are a lot more exclusive, too. This means that, unlike Quest’s search results, I cannot look at a free version of just the first chapter. I would consider this inaccessibility a business-weakness. One strength is that it is its own entity, unlike how Quest is hooked up to UMW.


Out of these two, I think that I should explore Quest some more. It has a lot more to offer other than what I’ve seen thus far. I believe I have only scraped the surface of it, despite how I have gotten so easily acclimated to it thus far.

how do Cohen’s Answers change?

In Cohen’s last chapters of his book, History In Three Keys, Cohen’s answers to the mythological ways in which the Boxers were portrayed serves to answer a different set of questions and thus generate a different platform than the ones prior such as ‘The Boxers as Event’ or ‘The Boxers as Experience’. They do this by a very simple method of changing the subtitle and thus shifting the context and focus. In the first part of the book, on page four of the second paragraph, Cohen writes, “The problem… has to do with how we go about defining the relationship between ‘history’… and ‘reality’…” When he begins the first part of his book as the boxers taking on the role of an event throughout history, he is attempting to keep closely to the ‘reality’ side of things, only going so far as to say that the boxers did in fact happen and what came to pass did indeed come to pass. However, he describes that despite eye-witness accounts of such happenings, historians also take it upon themselves to write up a powerful narrative which informs a certain audience of people who may be interested in such events. What Cohen ends up trying to answer, is that there is a fine distinction between eye-witness accounts and the literature by historians who may end up embellishing the events a tad since they were not there. Yet those who also lived through the events will see to it that they embellish the stories some as well, so as to create a crafty narrative for how to conduct themselves in the world. Cohen himself writes that a subjective perspective in the ways of understanding past events in the world does not inherently create an abhorrent falsehood within the framework of societies and reality. In the third paragraph of the fourth page, Cohen writes, “… narrative is a basic component of every day existence… therefore, the narrativization of the historian does not, in itself, create a disjuncture between the experienced past…” Therefore, the embellishing of events is different between the writer and the doer. Throughout all of this, one can see that Cohen is trying to keep a copasetic face about giving charity to everyone’s perspective and that truth may lie somewhere in the middle or average of all of it. This first subsection, the idea of the boxers presenting themselves to be nothing more than historical events, starts to open itself up as a way for fresher ideas to express themselves later on down in the ladder subtitles such as “The Boxers as Myth”. Because the grounds have been set for Cohen to drive a respective line between embellished historical writings and embellished eye-witness accounts, he can then delve deeper into the boxers as they are to be portrayed in mythological frameworks and understandings. Therefore, a different set of perspectives and contexts are manifested here. The ‘Boxers as Experience’ is one train of thought which one goes down in order to explain and reconcile what went on during the years in which this revolution took hold over China in response to European immigration. This is where the eye-witness accounts start to take hold over the discussion of the ‘Boxers as Event’. In contrast, the second ideas held by those who follow the ‘Boxers as Myth’ narrative in the last/third part of the book, are those in whereby the historian’s lexicon is highly encased in mythos. The boxers are no longer an experience lived by people, but now rather a story in which the academic scholars may go on and on about. These stories warp the boxers as a group of individuals and instead make them out to be an object, or target, of a much greater chaos in the world of the time. The boxers are painted as a force of nature with regards to myths, despite their initial rationalizations for going about the revolutions in the way they did, and this therefore dehumanizes them a tad. Rather than being each an individual boxer who has their own story for why they are doing what they are doing and why they are a part of a giant revolution, which would end up hurting China the long run, they are painted as a side against another side. This kind of storytelling is often used in order to make sense of how battles are fought and how conquests are conducted, a primary point to recounting battles and how they shaped the land around them. Yet it is with this historian’s kinds of approach, when taken too far, that ‘myths’ are born.

Cohen, Paul A. History in Three Keys The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.

Cohen Outline

Main Points of Readings 211-222 and 239-260


  1. Cohen speaks on the ‘mythologized’, how much of history is.
  2. When using any kind of names, such as ‘nazis’ or ‘boxers’ or ‘antifa’ without going into detail on what the implications of those names mean or just how complicated the sides truly are, people will accidentally create a myth by boxing people up.
  3. Cohen says that many mythologizers will often write with an agenda in mind
  4. Real historians will use facts to simply paint a picture of what was, as best they can, while mythologizers will use facts to give purpose and/or meaning to the events for some kind of message or moral

Themes in History, Interest

The themes which interest me as a student of History are the economic lenses.
I find it very interesting when the events of history can be broken down into the fiscal marks. It is apparent, after all, that governments are built to regulate the economy and keep it from going out of control, yet the economy manifests itself first. There are many values and systems which are made in response to the needs and desires of money. Many families and members within the society often tell mythological moral-tales about the balance one needs in a society where material wealth is important to a high degree. The advent of material wealth and what one must do in order to attain it are written all across the different standards and moral-upbringings of societies. Traditions, cultures, and religions all have to reconcile the existence of money in some form or another. After all, many people do need to realize that money is not everything and it is just the platform by which greater pleasures are achieved, yet the “poor class” or the “working class” is always going to be the biggest group in societies and therefore money will always be an issue. For the middle-class, as well as the upper-classes, the advent of material wealth does not scare them for much. In fact, in order for the working class to create a cooperation between their grievances and what the middle class wants, it is completely inevitable that the working class needs to co-opt the middle class somehow by creating some kind of social or religious front. The main backing reason behind every war or major conflict has been because of fiscal incompetence, yet the frontal reasons which we are told about are often from religions, social outcries, and so on. This is because, as it was written so far in this writing, the middle-classes and upper-classes, who do not rely on money as heavily in so far as the existence of it concerns them, they have social troubles. Or rather, to no one’s surprise, perhaps it is entirely possible that those of the middle-class wish to move up in the world to the upper-class and become some kind of royalty. The middle-class is in a nice spot where they have free room to move, to look at the heavenly spoils above or the hellish lands below, and decide for themselves where they wish to be. Much flexibility is in this class therefore, because there is not a lot of backing (both in terms of money and actual networking) to the part of middle-class families. So a middle-class family may find it incredibly easier to become poor one day than a rich family would, not to imply any kind of strict impossibilities or the like here. Two good examples come to mind when I think of class warfare.
The first, is the Second World War. Germany had lost World War One, among other countries, yet was the most heavily taxed (figuratively). The Great Depression in the United States also harmed the European trade and Germany lost big in this exchange. Out of the ashes of a horribly destroyed economy came the rise of Nazism because people became fearful and outraged at the prospects of their country being weakened. Mostly, however, at the prospect of not being employed or being able to feed themselves and their families.
The second disaster was the French Revolution. The start of this conflict came about through a series of agricultural uprising known as ‘The Bread Riots’ whereby taxes on bread made the bread so expensive that even the producers of the food could not go back out into the stores to buy it. The wheat farmers, outraged, went to burn the crops of wheat in order to demonstrate a lack of cooperation. From this, soon, other classes and ideas joined in on the mess to push their agendas too.
With respect to social elements of the way we conduct ourselves in the world, economics cannot be the only lens we look at History with.
Nonetheless, it is a very easy and predictable lens to view the world with.



Hello all! I go by Ryan Cier Eric and three of my most valued hobbies are Photography, Writing, and Reading. I love History and Languages and as such am studying them at UMW. Also really enjoy connecting with people and making good friends.
Let’s hear it for Fernsebner’s 297!!! WOOT-WOOT





Gallery, Cuba. “Photography.” Flickr, March 18, 2012. Accessed September 07, 2017.  (in order from top to bottom)


Splinter, Hans. “Medieval writing.” Flickr. June 03, 2013. Accessed September 07, 2017.


JEZEQUEL, Yoann. “Reading.” Flickr. April 05, 2014. Accessed September 07, 2017.