Creative Approaches invite you to engage with historical events in an immediate, personal, and imaginative way.
This is among the least formal types of assignments you may encounter. The intention is to allow you to indulge in a sort of "time travel" experience that allows you to be a first-hand witness to history. Such assignments invite you to experience history from the imagined perspective of one who actually witnessed the events: either a common person (a bystander, if you will) or, alternatively, a major player (a general, a president, etc.).
The sample assignments below will remind you of some of the role-playing activities you may have encountered during high school history classes. In a way, they are their written equivalents. The fact is, you are less likely to encounter such assignments in college than in high school. Nevertheless, such projects are assigned, and they continue to benefit you by allowing you to experience history vividly (at least in your imagination) and first-hand, from the participant's perspective.
Because of their open, creative character, there is no need to adhere to specific rules when approaching such assignments. Indeed, there is no single set of rules in place for these kinds of projects, although the specific nature of your assignment itself will establish its own basic parameters. There is, of course, a likelihood that your professor will ask you to attach a Works Cited page, or bibliography, perhaps even an annotated bibliography, in order to reveal the source(s) that helped shape your imagined character. Undoubtedly, your professor is also hoping that the research that went into this project will help you to establish a broder context for this type of assignment.
Possible assignments include:
There is no end to these kinds of assignments - try developing some yourself and run them by your professor.
While the above-listed (and other such) types of assignments are clearly intended to appeal by being "fun" and imaginative, they do not absolve you of the responsibility to delve into their broader contexts:
Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen and Volker Riess. The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders. New York: The Free Press, 1992
Saul Friedländer. Nazi Germany and the Jews, vol. 1, The Years of Persecution, 1933-39. New York: HarperCopllins, 1998.
Selassie, Haile. "Appeal to the League of Nations," June 1936. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/selassie.htm
Sellasie, Haile. My Life and Ethiopia's Progress: The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Sellassie I (volume 1). London: Oxford University Press, 1976.
Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. New York: Basic Books, 1997. (On this source, see Book Reviews, Historiographic Essays, and Evaluating Contradictory Data and Claims).
Graham, Helen. The Spanish Republic at War, 1936-1939. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Bear in mind that none of the works and authors listed above are immune to the possibility of bias/prejudice (the sources on Haile Sellassie, for example, are written by himself) and that the more you research, the more likely you are to encounter contradictory data and claims. Sifting through, and making sense of such possible contradictions is of course part of your role as historian. These works' footnotes and bibliographies (or, in the case of websites, their links), will lead you to further sources.BACK TO TOP