Makers of History (LS-EU-351)

Our time is one in which we are more keenly aware of our freedom and capacity for action. Contemporary philosophical reflections on the human condition have pointed out our historicity, that is, the fact that human beings do not just passively undergo history, but are agents within it – or better yet, are makers of history.

This learning scenario (LS), “Napoleon: Humanity and Power”, wishes to bring that powerful idea to the fore in the minds of students.

Bellenblazende Napoleon, 1813” [Napoleon Blowing Bubbles]. Spotprent [cartoon]. Credits: Rijksmuseum. Licence: PD.

It is recommended that the LS is implemented after or towards the end of considerations of the French Revolution and/or the Napoleonic Age; in this way, our learners would have the necessary background knowledge about the outcomes of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon.

Through this learning scenario, students would then have the opportunity to more actively engage with the knowledge they gained through class discussions and their readings. They are enjoined to sift through images that may not only complement received information but also underline the idea that Napoleon Bonaparte was a human being who lived in a particular historical context, within which he encountered challenges that required his response.

Images of Power and Humanity

The students are asked to find images on Europeana that show links between Napoleon and the ideas of “power” and “humanity”. These two terms are not necessarily predefined by the teacher, so as to give the students the space to figure out on their own how they understand and appreciate these words.

In explaining their choice of images the participants meet the challenge of articulating their notions of power and humanity, as well as of integrating their findings with knowledge gained from class discussions and other resources.

Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:

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CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.

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