The Visualization of History: A New Turn in the Development of Historical Cognition

Lyudmila Mazur

Abstract


The author analyzes the transformational processes of historical research in the advent of a society of visual culture. The development of visual anthropology became the most obvious factor of the visual turn in historical research, and it studies different manifestations of visuality, using new tools for collecting and registering data (such as a video camera). The increasing popularity of historical films and documentaries, museum installations and historic reconstructions testify to the intensification of the processes of visualization in historical research. The article gives a brief overview of the main stages of the transformation of historical research, including changes in style of language, the expansion of subject matter of research, the update of the resource base and analysis methods in relation to visual sources. The author emphasizes that there is a tendency among historians to use a wide variety of terms that are related to the visual approach (image, appearance, portrait, landscape, etc.).

The author focuses on the methodological and methodical aspects of historical-visual studies and considers the methodological approaches towards image reconstruction, mechanisms of image formation, the display of images and the influence of social consciousness and behavior on images. The increase in the amount of modern historical sources is caused by the increasing use of  audio-visual sources. Special attention is paid to fictional films as a subtype of audio-visual documents; the author describes their potential and peculiarities of representation. It is noted that when analyzing video documents, it is necessary that the researcher take into account the character of information (images of the present and past). Films based on topics belonging to the same epoch as the researchers are the most attractive ones for analyzing as they contain a considerable amount of information reflecting the peculiarities of material culture, behavioral models and relationships as well as social types.

The author demonstrates that to study audio-visual sources it is necessary to use special methods, namely, the method of observation. The article studies its essence, and the methods of its adaptation to the analysis of audio-visual documents. Additionally, the article characterizes the main stages in the employment of the method when analyzing video documents. The study of visual sources forms special skills needed to work with information.


Keywords


visual anthropology; visual history; image; method of observation in history; modern historiography

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15826/qr.2015.3.117

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