Master of Arts (MA)
Semester of Degree Completion
Raymond L. Koch
This thesis seeks to resolve three propositions. The first concerns the continuity of history. It maintains that the continuity of history is ensured by certain universals, or abstract human traits, pertaining to the history of civilization, and that particulars, or in this case, human inspirations, provide the connecting links that bind together those segments of history involving people, places, things, and events.
Secondly, it contends that all historical events result from the actions of people, and that no matter how large or small the event, each individual involved makes a purposeful historical contribution to it.
The third purpose demonstrates that imaginative literature is an acceptable means for describing universals in the manner of history "as it could be," in contrast to history "as it is" as described by participants in the events of history. Comparisons and contrasts are made between letters, diaries, and memoirs of the American Civil War and fictional literature in various historical settings. Literature will be examined which concerns itself with the following abstract human traits, all of which find themselves in considerable presence during wartime: PATRIOTISM, HONOR, DUTY, COURAGE, GLORY, LOYALTY, PRIDE, LOVE, COMPASSION, FAITH.
This study concludes that no matter what "level" of history is analyzed, the role of the individual contributes to the historical event no only in proportion to the significance of his individual action, but to the extent that he is an historical essential of the whole.
It also determines that inspirations, resulting from man's assignment to time and space of certain universals, are the connecting links between individual segments of history, that those inspirations are the causes of which purposes are the effects, and that purpose provides direction to the action of the individual.
That part of the thesis devoted to the study of literature suggests that the same universals pervade the worlds of both the fiction writer and the participants in history. As a consequence, imaginative literature is valuable for illustrating those universals that permeate history and thus broaden one's understanding of them. This understanding serves as an expanded reference base for the re-enactment of history in the minds of historical researchers, interpreters, and writers.
Finally, the paper concludes that although imaginative historical literature can describe history as it could be, it cannot serve as factual historical record. Acceptable historical documentation must correspond to facts in the real world.
Sunderland, Glenn W., "Human Inspirations as the Connecting Links of History: Demonstration Through Contrasts of Imaginative Literature and Historical Record" (1982). Masters Theses. 2963.