Cohen’s Main Points

  • Perspective
    • Cohen does not make you pick side – just gives you all perspectives
      • Columbus – Europeans/Native Americans
        • “the kind of truth they convey is fundamentally ahistorical – subjective, one-sided, egregiously incomplete” (214)
      • Europeans = Columbus is great! Found Americas!
      • Native Americans = Columbus stole and destroyed our land and people
    • Positive mythologization
      • “local boosterism” (219)
        • Typically used for monuments, buildings, statues, memorials to enhance the fortunes of the surrounding area (219).
          • Half truths, manipulation of truths
          • Monuments may not actually be important, but take half the truth, and persuade audience
        • “The mythological past need not be historically accurate. But if it is to be effective in persuading or mobilizing people in the present, it must be bound by at least a loose conception of ‘truthfulness.’” (214).
          • “exercise of public remembering” (219)

Themes of Interest

Today, I am blogging about the themes of interests I have in the current book I am reading, “History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth,” by Paul A. Cohen.  First of all, the book is amazing and I love every aspect of it!  In my future History classroom (I want to be a high school History Teacher), I will definitely have this!

One of the main themes I would love to focus on is the gender discrimination.  As discussed in the book, “Dirty water, as a destroyer of magic, was unquestionably related in Boxer minds to the most powerful inhibitor of all: women, and more particularly uncleanness in women, a category that, for the Boxers, included everything from menstrual or fetal blood to nakedness to pubic hair” (129-130).  Women are so separated from the public at the point unless you were a young women because you were still a virgin and pre-menstrual, so clean (141).  This is fascinating how the whole society seemed to fall into the belief of these “dirty” women corrupting their environment.  They were polluting the environment with their dirtiness.

Another theme I really enjoy is the whole idea of these spirit boxers.  Their rituals are absolutely fascinating!  The spirit boxers (and their followers) believed that when one became possessed, it is God descending and entering “the body of a Boxer” (98).  The spirit possessions incorporates religion into the practices, so more people begin to follow this idea (102).  The spirit boxers can help individuals on a individual and collective level (103).  Some people use this as a social distraction which enhances their social power, some people use it to heal the sick, etc. (104-105).  As stated in the book, the spirit possession world is a “helping profession” (103).

Intro and cool pics!

Hello!  My name is Jessie Whitmer.  I am a History and Secondary Education major at the University of Mary Washington and I love every bit of it!  I am a complete history nerd and will geek out over ANYTHING history related.  I am very fascinated with the Middle Ages of Europe, the Renaissance, medieval torture devices and medical practices, the post-mortem photography, and I also love discussing the Holocaust.  I know, very dark topics, but I find them absolutely fascinating.

Here are some really neat pictures I thought would portray my interests in History.


Medieval Torture Devices, Image from “The living monument, in parts, with some compositions in rhymes of liberal thoughts of past and future events, to lovers of light and liberty” p. 113.  1919.  From the Library of Congress Minneapolis, Minnesota.    Available from Flickr Commons: (accessed September 6, 2017).








The Holocaust, Image from “San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives.” 1941-1945.  From San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives. Available from Flickr Commons: (accessed September 6, 2017).

Post-mortem, unidentified girl, Image from Southworth & Hawes, 1850.  From George Eastman Museum.  Available from Flickr Commons (accessed September 6, 2017).


Hope you enjoy!