Thursday, August 8, 2013

Text on Trial: Picture in Text without Reference to Source

Caption in Text= "Galileo tries to defend himself before the Inquisition. The Court, however, demands that he recant."

Discussion: This source states that the above painting is from the 19th century. And this source attributes the painting as follows: "Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury."

Why is this a problem? The painting appears under a section titled Interact with History. The authors are attempting to show the reader what the trial may have looked liked. It is not stated that this work of art was created centuries after the trial, nor is any attempt made to discuss how art reveals information about the artist, the society and times he lived in, and his view of the past.


  1. This is a classic problem with textbooks, and one of the issues examined by SHEG's Beyond the Bubble. I ripped off Beyond the Bubble's text for a simple assessment of historical thinking with two paintings from the Classic Civilizations unit of my Global Studies class, , and, inspired by this, I will look for other examples in the World History text that we use.

  2. Also, I suspect that this same issue is endemic in teacher-generated .ppt's that replace or supplement the text in many classes.