Thursday, March 5, 2015

Historical vs. Contemporary



Okay guys! Here's another genre question for you!

We all know a historical novel is one that takes place in the past.  Usually, but not always, a novel based around either a true event, or some big event in history.  And if not that, then you usually learn about customs or practices from the past.

A contemporary novel is one that takes place in the present, obviously! The current day. Now times, dealing with nowadays issues.

But when does one become the other? How far back does "present" day go? And how far close to now does historical come?

I think we can agree that 20s and 30s would be historical. World War II times and the 40s obviously are. How about the 50s and 60s? Yes?

So... what about the 70s? Vietnam war? Watergate? Historical? Probably.

And the 80s? Historical or contemporary? The 90s? Historical or contemporary?

See? Starting to get a little fuzzy, ain't it?

Think of books set in those times periods. How do you think of them? Present day or historical past times? What's the "newest" setting you think of as historical and the "oldest" you think of as contemporary?

Let me know what you think!


14 comments:

  1. I love these genre question posts. My first thought was about the book Elinor & Park. It's set in the 80's but I think it's considered contemporary over historical. To me historical feels like the 1800's, Jane Austen-era books. But I guess Code Name Verity is considered historical, too. Maybe anything before the 80's is historical? Maybe if the music from that time period is now played on an oldies station it counts as "historical" :)

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    1. Kathy: Eleanor and Park was one I pondered too. And I agree, I think people think of it as contemporary. LOL about the music!

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  2. I was wondering that when I was reading I Remember You- most of it is set in the 90s. Good question! <3 Bee @ Bee Reads Books

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  3. I consider anything not in the last 10 years to be historical. Not old, just historical. It's not right now.

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    1. Becca: Very interesting! So for you, Eleanor and Park is historical not contemporary? Hmm...

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  4. I actually think historical is an event not a time. That's not completely accurate but it seems like a lot of "historical" books revolve around an event not just a time. Wow, I don't think that made sense. Oh well.

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    1. Jenny: It does seem like that, I agree.

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  5. I think it has to do with your own contemporaries and when the book was written. And, you probably know this because Jane Austen's are considered historical since they were actually written in that time period. So, as far as my first point, I think anything before the decade I was born in is considered historical. I'd consider a book written about Woodstock historical. But, you may not. But, you'd definitely think something written about the 50s is historical. Does that even make sense?

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    1. Jenni: Sort of yep. But I would think Woodstock historical now, actually, since it's far enough away from current days.

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  6. This is such a good question! And thinking about it, I don't have any real answers. I don't think I'd consider a book set in the 1990s as historical, but I'm not sure I'd call it contemporary either (I mean - no cell phones, or at least, those big clunkers called cell phones! how can it be contemporary?)

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    1. Belle: So maybe we need to think up a whole new genre? LOL!

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  7. It depends on when the book was written and how you write it. I view contemporary as every day life stuff: school drama, boy next door, vacation, etc. Historical is more about specific events I think. Someone could write about 9/11 events, and I'd consider it a historical fiction.

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  8. I taught middle school English with gents themes, and I would tell the students that they needed to consider the author's intent. If a book takes place in 2015 about the race to develop efficient solar energy, them it's historical.

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