Good Edward Ayers: “Defining The Twentieth Century” Report Example
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1: A comprehensive accounting of the central points and arguments associated with each podcast
Edward L. Ayers argues in his speech that history does not develop as a simple chain of results on each previously planned action. But it is rather a continuation of different unexpected but necessary steps. In order to notice the key points of the history we have to look backwards. Among the facts that made the US as it is today there are breaking the slavery law; fighting with segregation and racism; Civil War; Civil Rights Movement; women emancipation; education and religion reforms; economic, cultural and technological changes. A significant role was played by external factors like the World War I and the World War II, new technology inventions (telegraph, radio, Internet, railway, etc.), world leader’s actions (e.x. Mahatma Gandhi).( Ayers, Edward L.,” Defining the Twentieth Century”, n.d.)
Some of the above mentioned facts happened much earlier than 20th century; however, they reflected in the US development. Liberation of the slaves during the period of the Civil War was a great sustain for the further development of the Afro-American culture, education, churches and, what is the most important, farming and business. Thus a strong Afro-American middle class was founded. Later the middle class will play a key role in fighting with segregation and racism.
Strong Afro-American movement for the equal rights in society motivated and encouraged American women to do the same. However, in this case a great role was played by the politics, and finally women have got the opportunity to vote. Despite the fact, that these movements were not synchronized neither mutual, both of them benefited from the actions of each other.
External factors and especially wars greatly influenced the US economy and policy. More men were needed to fight in the army, while more women to work on factories and farms. Therefore, these needs later reflected on the rights and prohibitions of Afro-Americans as well as the US women.
2: The significance of the material
A big importance of the Ayers’ lecture is that he shows the relation between all areas of people’s life – economy, culture, religion, education, social movements. He argues that history is not just a chain of the reasons and their consequences, but rather a number of unexpected actions, caused by the regular human needs. Edward Ayers says that history should not be ‘chopped into slices’ but better to be viewed as a full picture. (Ayers, Edward L.,” Defining the Twentieth Century”, n.d.) It is almost impossible to predict the history, either to state clearly what action caused this or that result. Some people are now called great, but if to look closer, their deeds were nothing, but the answer to the current needs of their surrounding (e.x. Martin Luther King). Thus, everyone is actually creating the history. We should not only discover what and when it has happened, but also why and how it can influence the ‘big picture’.
3: Your own opinion on the topic and presentation of the material
First of all, this lecture shows us that history cannot be represented as an up-growing trend. It has its drops and splashes and sometimes it goes backwards. Unlike usual lessons on history, this one was not overloaded with dates and famous names. Hence, it was easier to concentrate on the comparison and analysis. Edward Ayers always asked questions and in this way he made everybody to analyze themselves.
The lector suggested some new points of view on such historical facts like a Great Depression. As for me, new technologies that developed the communication on big distances are tied with economic recessions. However, they cannot be declared as the main reason of any financial crisis. The US is one of the most opened economies in the world, and thus, main global tendencies may influence the country’s economy, laws and culture. Definitely the fight against racism during the World War II in Europe resonated in the USA, but was modified.
I also believe that relations between the neighbor and overseas partner countries have to be analyzed for better understanding of the full historical picture. Trade partners and competitors have a great impact on the country’s development and economic welfare. Thus, any changes in these countries will influence the US life.
Ayers, Edward L., Defining the Twentieth Century, The Gilder Lehrman Institute. (n.d.) Web. 27th March 2015 <https://vimeo.com/24570932>
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