‘I second that emotion’: a case for using imaginative sources in writing civil rights history

Monteith, Sharon (2015) ‘I second that emotion’: a case for using imaginative sources in writing civil rights history. Patterns of Prejudice, 49 (5). pp. 440-465. ISSN 1461-7331

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Abstract

Imaginative sources are a rich archival store. Facts may be as slippery as the sources in which they are contained, but to limit the sources we use in building a civil rights historiography is to risk curtailing the reach and interdisciplinary scope of historical scholarship. We need to read imaginative and subjective sources as objects for the study, analysis and explanation of the Civil Rights Movement. In civil rights, as in other historical subjects, there is a privileging of an ‘objective’, detached approach to historiography in which ‘the knower’ is made distinct from what is known, and fact distinct from its imaginative representation. Monteith's essay argues that much can be gained by examining those sources in which the feeling of the movement is explored sensitively and intellectually—or even exploited. Organizers in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Freedom Summer volunteers chose to represent the movement in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction, and found themselves represented in fiction films. Monteith argues that imagination and emotion should be more closely incorporated into civil rights history writing but attention needs to be paid to genre and style if generically unstable sources are not to be misread as unadorned fact.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: cinema, Civil Rights Movement, emotion, history writing, imagination, journalism, literature, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/0031322X.2015.1103439
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2016 12:56
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2016 07:29
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/37781

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