Project 5:Minorities in Historical Fiction

December 13, 2018 |  Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Project 5:Minorities in Historical Fiction

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Minorities in Historical Fiction: A Brief How-To

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Representation and diversity in historical works have recently been a hotly debated topic. This is a quick overview of some ways to incorporate minority characters in a way that is both sensitive and reasonably accurate. Obviously, writers can set their story in a non-European context: the Aztec Empire, Japan’s isolationist era, the Haudenosaunee (Five Nations/Iroquois) etc. etc. but for the ones in a Euro-centric setting the following may be helpful.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 People of Color:

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 To begin with racial dynamics are different in Europe, than in Asia, than in North America. In the United States people often substitute African American for Person of Color in historical works which becomes problematic, and not only because of the underlying assumption that people become fill in the blanks.  In Europe a person of African descent would usually be found in a major urban center or a port city. European ethnic minorities include, Roma, Jews, Irish, Catalan, and Basque.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Sexualities:

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Sexual mores vary by culture. In some cultures, erotic love between an older man and a younger boy was not only accepted but admired, at least until the boy grew facial hair. For the Vikings acceptable sex meant that the man was the dominant partner. Lesbians were generally ignored unless they were also political activists.  Upper-class men could get away with more than a lower-class man could.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Trans-people historically looked different than they do today. Gender reassignment surgery is fairly recent, not only because of changing values but because of advances in medical science. Use of anesthesia for surgery and other medical procedures was first standardized in the mid-19th century, sanitation by Joseph Lister in the 1870s, and finally antibiotics in the 1930s with sulfa. Surgery without the above components was extremely risky and was typically necessity based by responsible physicians.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 While there are many documented cases in history of women expressing the desire to be a man, of women saying they have a man’s mind in a woman’s body, etc. these statements need to be looked at in the context of historical attitudes towards women. If a woman was constantly told she was the weaker sex, that her mind was more fragile than a man’s, that she was less fit for a position of authority than a man why would she want to be a woman? Transmen existed. Internalized misogyny did to.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Physical or Mental Disabilities:

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Perceptions of a disabled person were usually based on what society thinks a disabled person is worth. This is an area where a previously healthy man would be more negatively affected than a woman would because of how society defined being a man. If being a man meant being strong, meant being a provider, meant being emotionally controlled, a man who couldn’t would face discrimination.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Example:

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 My protagonist is from a well-off family in Britain and is in her early twenties, so she’s pretty sheltered before she joins the VAD. Her knowledge of other sexualities is mostly academic such as Oscar Wilde’s trial, although her sympathies are entirely with Constance as Constance’s fate of a wife whose husband openly sought other company and humiliated her would be something she would be afraid of for herself. She’s not from a large city, so she’s familiar with people of lower socioeconomic backgrounds rather than ethnic minorities. Meeting minorities/ POC is a new experience and is something she’s curious about, but cautious. She does think of them as exotic others because it is all very new to her.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0  


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