Monthly Archives: September 2011

But its not accurate! The joys of anachronism in historical shows and fiction.

I was recently introduced to an amazing show on CBBC called Leonardo! by a friend of mine who wrote a fantastic post about it, which I highly recommend though it is full of spoilers. Reading her post got me thinking about how my levels of forgiveness in terms of anachronism depend on the work and its attitude. I studied Classics’ as an undergraduate, but do not consider myself a historian though I love history. I love the idea that the past is another world and when we try to put it into a form that will be recognizable to a modern audience, it changes due to what we expect to see or the story requires. Examining how this plays out is the beginning of my idea for this combination program watching/book group.

The power of historical fiction in print or on TV is that it invites you to enter the world of the past on street level and amongst perhaps characters who are even your age. As a librarian, I started to wonder what programming possibilities might be lurking in one of my favorite genres. In college one of my favorite experiences was social watching, sharing a new episode of a TV show together is a simple joy. My thought would be to combine that joy with a show like Leonardo or a book group about a fairly historical series and go from there. With every episode have the watchers pick on something to pay attention to, are they curious about art or clothing? Then before the next meeting, they do some research enough to find out what’s real and what’s not.

As my friend showed in her entry, a lot of these answers are easy to find online, but the joy comes in discussing them. To think about not only why was this presented this way but does it make sense? Was it done because the creators don’t have a large budget or did they change the story to involve more characters? What’s the driving force? As historical fiction or fantasy in a historical setting is a common setting in books and television shows, this could become a long running program with changes of medium depending on what the group finds interesting.

It also draws out ideas about what is important to us as the watchers in terms of what is acceptable to change and what isn’t? In terms of how people interact with media, we all have our points that make us go, no. These are key things that we learn as we’re growing and testing out genres to find out not only what do we enjoy but what pulls us out of a work. To create programming that gives young people a chance to discuss and experience various genres and think about how they work will help them become better readers and writers. At this point in time I don’t have a library to run this program at but someday I hope to as historical anachronism is a gateway to research and discussion brought by statements like, “But he’s wearing sneakers!”

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