Living History Museums

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Living history museums are cultural institutions that merge historical exhibits with live costumed performance. While unique and vitally important, they often compromise historical accuracy and authenticity for the sake of tourism and entertainment value. Many also pursue methods of performance and historiography that are becoming increasingly outdated. Living History Museums: Undoing History Through Performance examines the performance practices used by institutions such as Plimoth Plantation and Colonial Williamsburg, and offers a new genealogy of living history museum performance in the U.S. and Europe. Currently, existing scholarship on living history museums addresses the subject from a museum-studies or anthropology perspective. Author Scott Magelssen, however, approaches the material from a background in theatre history and theory, analyzing living history museums using postmodern methodology. Considering performance as a method for the study of history and exploring emergent non-traditional theatrical practices, the book offers suggestions for performance in an increasingly postmodern landscape. Concluding with an international listing of living history institutions and a complete list of sources, Living History Museums is a valuable resource for students and teachers of theatre and performance studies, cultural studies, folklore, popular culture, American studies, and museum studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Museum News
After outlining a new history of these performances in the United States and Europe, Magelssen offers suggestions for their improvement, which he sates is achievable if museums abandon their 'just-the-facts' mentality and embrace alternative modes of performance.
College & Research Libraries News
...points out the dilemmas of living interpretation, from misleading visitors about time and history to perpetuating outmoded linear views of historical progress.
May 2007 Reference and Research Book News
An external researcher rather than a participant in living museums or a particular fan of them, Magelssen (theater arts, Augustana College, Illinois), examines the performance practices, philosophies, and curatorial methods they have used to stage the past through the 20th and into the 21st centuries, and how they see themselves as the very products of these practices.
Reference and Research Book News
An external researcher rather than a participant in living museums or a particular fan of them, Magelssen (theater arts, Augustana College, Illinois), examines the performance practices, philosophies, and curatorial methods they have used to stage the past through the 20th and into the 21st centuries, and how they see themselves as the very products of these practices.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810858657
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 252
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Magelssen is associate professor of Theatre at Bowling Green State University. He has published articles on living history museums in many theatre journals, including Theatre History Studies and The Drama Review. The author won the 2005 Gerald Kahan Award for the Best Essay in Theatre Studies by a Younger Scholar for his article "Performance Practices of [Living] Open-Air Museums (And a New Look at 'Skansen' in American Living Museum Discourse)," published in Theatre History Studies in 2004.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Acknowledgments Part 2 Introduction Part 3 Chapter 1 The Dilemmas of Contemporary Living History Museum Historiography in Theory and Practice Chapter 4 The Progressive Development Narrative of Living History Museum History Chapter 5 Progressive Histories: Major Works Chapter 6 The Progressive Development Narrative in Practice Chapter 7 (In)authentic Revolutions: Time, Space, and Living History Museums Chapter 8 Plimoth Plantation Chapter 9 Colonial WIlliamsburg Chapter 10 Old Sturbridge Village Chapter 11 Storytelling vs. Scientific Discourse Part 12 Chapter 2 Toward a New Genealogy of Living History Museum Performance Chapter 13 A Historiography of Immanence Chapter 14 Defining the Episteme Chapter 15 An Emergence within a Shifting Field Chapter 16 Capitalizing on the Past—Capitalizing on Loss Chapter 17 Social History and the Trajectory of Living Museum Performance Chapter 18 The Naturalistic Ideal Chapter 19 Living History as Pleasure Part 20 Chapter 3 Performace as Historiography at Living History Museums Chapter 21 The Historiography of Performance Chapter 22 The Field Chapter 23 Missed Opportunities Chapter 24 Alternatives to the Naturalistic Mode Chapter 25 Post-Tourists and Living History Performace Part 26 Conclusion Part 27 Appendix: Selected Living History Programming Sites Part 28 Bibliography Part 29 Index Part 30 About the Author

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  • Posted July 8, 2014

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

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