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Time Traveling Historian

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Time Traveling Historian
Gina York
October 14, 2012
William Devine

Time Traveling Historian
As a child I often pondered what it would have been like to live in another time. A time far removed from the time I currently lived in. Would it have been as exciting to live in then as I imagined it to be in my head and would it look anything remotely like I had envisioned it in my “mind’s eye”? In order for me to finally realize my childhood dream I decided to take it upon myself to build a time machine. The question is once I got the time machine built, where would it take me? Would I go back into the past or go forward into the future? I decided that I would choose to go back into the past simply because the future is still open for change but the past has been written; but as an author I was curious to know, had the past been written accurately? I decided that this would be my task. I will travel back in time to verify that what I read in my humanities books was correct.
I have tasked myself with a formidable question. What point in time do I want to travel to? How hard it will be to make that decision. Indeed, making the choice turned out to be difficult, but I came to the conclusion that the period I chose to travel back to must have some type of cultural or artistic significance. Of course any given time period produced some kind of cultural or artistic significance. My dilemma was finally resolved when I came to the conclusion that I would simply start the time machine and let the timer start counting backward and with my eyes closed I would just hit the stop button and there is where my adventure would commence. So, with eyes closed, the journey began---
Hellenistic Greece
The counter on the time machines stops and it reads 323 B.C. Thankfully I remembered to bring a history book with me and if my history serves me correctly, this was also about the time that Alexander the Great had died and that meant that I have traveled to the beginning of the Hellenistic Greece time period. This period had enormous amounts of historical benefit to culture and the arts. As I made my way through the city I believed to be Pergamon, I marveled at the beauty of the sculptures that adorned the architecture. “This Hellenistic city was grand in vision, designed on a large scale and embellished with a profusion of ornament” (Benton & DiYanni, 2008, p. 86). The 400 hundred feet long relief sculptures of the “Battle of the Gods and the Giants” on sides of the podium of the “Alter of Zeus” at Pergamon which would be celebrated for millennia to come.
As I made my way through the narrow city streets, I came upon another addition to the grand friezes’ of Hellenistic Greece, and that was of “Gandhara”. I stepped into an alley way so as not to attract too much attention to myself as I looked through my history book to find the chapter on the Trojan horse. The Gandhara frieze depicts the prophetess Cassandra and the priest Lancoön as they block the entry into Troy (Benton & DiYanni, 2008, p. 89). The sheer size of this relief sculpture is amazing in itself. How much time must it have taken to create these works of art with what I considered to be crudely made tools? Albeit they were most likely to be current with the tools of the sculpting trade back in 323 B.C. The quality of the craftsmanship was sure to stand the test of time.
The sun was beginning to set as sat quietly scribbling down as many notes as I could before I would have to turn around and retrace my steps to go back to my time machine. I found myself ready for my next adventure. Where would the next spin of the counter take me? Perhaps I would go to see the Great Wall of China or maybe I would get the view the beauty of the stained-glass windows of the Romanesque Cathedrals of the Late Middle Ages. What I did know was that I would not get to see anything if I did not start the counter. I closed my eyes for only what seemed to be just a moment or two before I hit the counter again to stop the time machine. I was ready for my next adventure.
The Early 20th Century
The counter on the time machine read 1907. From the looks of the city streets and the signs that hung above the doors of the buildings, I could tell exactly where I was. Paris, France. I could feel the anticipation welling up inside of me that very moment! I was going to experience, first hand, my favorite artistic styles. Of course I am referring to the “avant-garde movement known as the “isms”, or more specifically, fauvism, cubism, futurism, and expressionism. If I had to define what “isms” are, I would say that they are an art movement or a type or style of art. “A specific common philosophy or goal generally started by one person and then followed by a group of artists of that time and often duplicated by others in during a later time” (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 2012, para 1). I was regretful that I arrived after the “Fauvism” period. “Fauvism” was a named coined for paintings with wild brush strokes and no particular pallet of colors. Artists such and Matisse and Rouault had certainly shown their art for the first time in the “Salons” of Paris. However, I did stop in the timeline that would allow me to view “Cubism” as it was in its infancy. I immediately began to look for a “Salon” or more commonly known in my time period as an art gallery so that I could view first hand, what I knew in the future, would be considered to be priceless works of art.
I opened my history book to the early 20th century and read about “Cubism” and how “Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque painted specific shapes and characteristic details that would represent the whole object or person” (Gersh-Nesic, 2012). As I made notes into my journal, I felt a bit of sorrow that I could not view them all. I commented briefly on the “Futurism” style which began in Italy many years later than the time period I was currently in. This style was created by the poet Filippo Marinetti who created and published the “Manifesto of Futurism”. The manifesto outlines a pledge that all “Futurists” would follow.
“Sing the love of danger,” to “affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty, the beauty of speed” to “glorify war—the world’s only hygiene,” to “destroy the museums, libraries, and academies of every kind,” and, finally, to “sing of great crowds excited to work, by pleasure, and by riot” (Benton & DiYanni, 2008, p. 543).
This style confused me but I certainly appreciated the art and the cultural impact it created.
The final style of the”isms” I wrote in my journal about during my stop in 1907 was about “Expressionism”, “German Expressionism” to be more precise. This style was the last of the pre-war artistic movements considered to be “avant-garde”. “Expressionism” was best known for its “liberation of colors and the celebration of sexuality (Benton & DiYanni, 2008, p. 545). As I glanced at my watch I knew that it was time to take my leave of this extraordinary place and point in time. One more turn of the clock to go---
The Late 20th Century
The final and last stop of my time traveling journey was not what I had expected but welcomed none-the-less. I had landed exactly where my interest in this time traveling journey had begun, during the late 20th century. It was 1965 to be exact. I was a merely young child of ten years; but the desire to know about the past had been proclaimed. My interest was only of general knowledge at that point. Many things were going on during this time. The Vietnam War was still raging on and after much civil unrest; the African-American Civil Rights movement was finally beginning to become realized with the Voter’s Rights Act. In addition, feminist and anti-war movements were increasing, just to name a few points
Even though I had become interested in the arts and cultures of the past, it wasn’t until much later that I had settled upon a particular interest. “Pop Culture” as it had become to be known, was not so much any particular style, but it was most definitely a term that covered many genres of art, styles and cultures. To understand “Pop Culture” one must look at examples of what this style refers to. As defined, “Pop Culture” is “commercial culture based on popular taste” (HighBeam™ Research, Inc, 2012). However, popular taste in 1965 was subjective and encompassed many, many things. The music of this time was a prime example of the phenomenon of the pop culture movement. A musical event called “Woodstock” would come to be known as. “…one of the most significant concerts in rock history" (Yahoo new network, 2012, para. 1). Other things commonly referred to as “Pop Culture” during this timeline included fashion styles such as bell-bottoms and the mini-skirt. Lest we forget the television shows we loved to watch like, “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Green Acres”. Both of which are still playing 47 years later! 1965 also gave us the first “walk in space” by a Russian Cosmonaut. Pop culture affected us as it began and will continue to for years to come.
Before I completed my time here in the late 20th century I wrote in my journal the following message, “I have decided that ‘pop culture’ has most definitely turned out to be the most enlightening time I have experienced during my time traveling journey. However, as a whole, I have seen many fantastic things and examples of art and the cultural events that were inspired by them, such as the relief sculptures in Hellenistic Greece. I was able to gaze upon the artworks of famed fauvists, Matisse and Rouault. I have also witnessed the infancy of Picasso’s “Cubism” style”. I was not fortunate enough to view the “Expressionism” style but it appears to be the freest of all ‘isms’ that I have studied to date. I further notated, “While ‘Futurism’ may never be my desired choice or style, I can certainly appreciate the vision of the artist”.
As I set the date to return to my own time and make one last press of the counter button, I truly wish I had created my time machine with the capability to travel to more places. To visit and view other cultures would be another dream come true! Perhaps someday I will develop another time machine. However, next time I believe I will visit the future. Who knows what affects the past and the present have made on the arts and the cultures of the future? Of course, if there is a way, I will find out. Let the next journey begin---

Benton, J. R., & DiYanni, R. (2008). Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Hummanities
(3rd ed.). Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson.
Gersh-Nesic, B. (2012). Art history definition: analytic cubism. Retrieved from HighBeam™ Research, Inc. (2012). Pop culture. Retrieved from
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2012). Art movement. Retrieved from
Yahoo new network. (2012). The history and legacy of woodstock. Retrieved from Yahoo.voices:

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