European history and world history, for all the work of critical scholars and deconstructive revisionism, still tends to be viewed in terms of epochs and periods. Combined with a core event or central theme and a sense of 'narrative closure', these factors are sufficient to shape the key historical narratives or storylines that are repeated about the past. Simply by knowing the time, the general social context and place, we seem assured of having some genuine understanding of the issue at hand. Popular histories, often but not always written by experts in the field, remain best sellers, especially when stripped of the references and technical apparatus that supports a strong storyline. The History Channel suggests to its viewers, with narrative glibness and engrossing visual detail, that we can easily explore not only the main galleries but also the side chambers of history with just a little extra effort. These video documentaries imply that more detail will always be discovered about the past, but for now, this twenty-five or fifty-minute slice of reality is all you need to know (before the series becomes available). The 'past is honored and forgotten', even as it is positioned within the realm of commercial infotainment. The technical expertise of such products, both written and filmed, conceals their highly constructed, editorialised and inferential nature.
Ferguson, R. James
"European counter-traditions and the Western unconscious,"
Culture Mandala: The Bulletin of the Centre for East-West Cultural and Economic Studies:
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cm/vol9/iss1/4