12 July 2015

Coursera: Historical Fiction

University of Virginia
Professor: Bruce Holsinger
Online Course: Plagues, witches and wars: The worlds of historical fiction 

I found this online website Coursera which has some wonderful courses, brilliant content and good faculty. If you are on the go then you can use their app too as it offers quiet the same experience. They offer courses in everything from literature to science. So if you can't afford a U.S. Education this site offers you to experience it right from your mobile. 

The literary lover in me is always looking for some good writing or literature courses and I found one recently on 'Historical Fiction' and viola it was quiet an eye opener. So here is something for all you Storywala. 

It starts of with defining Historical Fiction. Then it mentions a very interesting book by Ian forester "How historians should read fiction." How evidences support the writings of historians. But that also brings to the point that how much evidences reveal. Do they reveal facts or mixed with imagination. Fiction being the only truth. Or as the reader says - 'Fiction is the truth of the lie, whereas historical fiction is the lie of the truth.' Isn't it a brilliant quote. 

Walter Scott, Scottish author of well known books, IvanhoeRob RoyThe Lady of the LakeWaverleyThe Heart of Midlothianand The Bride of Lammermoor is considered as the father of historical fiction. The later chapter deep dives into presentation of historical pieces in his novel Waverley. The field was male dominated and ladies joined very late in fact all writing genres were. In fact how many ancient authors are women. Take Valmiki of Ramayana holy book or Plato or Chaucer. The writing field was dominated still the women formed a part of the protagonists in these stories. They didn't get their share of authors but they made mark in the field of characters and we shall discuss my favourite historical books and male/ female historical fiction characters in my later blogs. 

The course goes on to explain the pre history of historical fiction through the example of Cicely, a historical novel. It was written by a woman but in the 18th century the woman writers used anonymous identity to publish their works. The course further explores the journey from Archives to Historical Fiction and the liberties and interpretations of the authors. 

Further chapters deep dive into specific cases of historical fiction, like distinct styles in 18th and 19th century are compared with a beautiful analogy of a painting, authors and books of historical writing from Asia, Africa and Europe and many more, if you have the appetite for the same. 


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