The Fascist Seduction of Narrative: Walter Benjamin’s Historical Materialism Beyond Counter-Narrative
This essay introduces Walter Benjamin’s historical materialism to illuminate how history teachers may invoke a critique of the past and present through democratizing the production of knowledge in the classroom. Historical materialism gives students access to the means of knowledge production and entrusts them with the task of generating a critique of politics though encounters with historical objects. The rise of the alt-right, alternative facts, and fake news sites necessitates social studies methods that intervene into the fascist seductions of narrative in history. A Benjaminian pedagogy emphasizes reading practices that acknowledge the political layers of history inscribed within the objects. This generates space for forms of pessimism and dialectic critiques of barbarism that students may experience with history beyond the teacher’s capacity for understanding. In the name of democracy over fascism, the article adds a political critique to students’ historical and critical thinking skills.
KeywordsCritical theory Critical pedagogy History education Frankfurt School
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