Abusing the Past, The Gilded Age Edition
Normally I applaud it when popular culture attempts a historical allusion, however imperfect, especially if its to one of our lesser known historical eras. Â True, these references can be simplistic or misinformed, but rarely do they miss the mark as much as the posting in yesterday’s Daily Candy for a “Gilded Age Road Trip.” (For those of you uninitiated into the femi-urban consumer orgy that is Daily Candy, think of it as the antithesis of Craigslist designed for aspirants to theÂ Sex in the City lifestyle.) Â The article entices readers to “make out like a robber baron” and head to the Berkshires for a sumptuous weekend filled with golf, “Vanderbilt-worthy victuals,” and pampering (including “results-orientated treatments like the Monticelli mud wrap”). Â History buffs can head to the Gilded Age Museum to see the exhibit, 200 Years of Berkshire Brides!
Lately, our professional development programs have featured a framework for history education called Thinking Like a Historian. Â The authors, Nikki Mandell and Bobbie Malone, identify several categories of historical thinking including “Using the Past,” which they define in the form of a question: “How does the past help us make sense of the present.” Â Alas, this is not the answer they had in mind.