Reading films, television dramas, reality shows, and virtual exhibits, among other popular texts, Engaging the Past examines the making and meaning of history for everyday viewers. Contemporary media can encourage complex interactions with the past that have far-reaching consequences for history and politics. Viewers experience these representations personally, cognitively, and bodily, but, as this book reveals, not just by identifying with the characters portrayed.
Some of the works considered in this volume include the films Hotel Rwanda (2004), Good Night and Good Luck (2005), and Milk (2008); the television dramas Deadwood, Mad Men, and Rome; the reality shows Frontier House, Colonial House, and Texas Ranch House; and The Secret Annex Online, accessed through the Anne Frank House website, and the Kristallnacht exhibit, accessed through the Unites States Holocaust Museum website. These mass cultural texts cultivate what Alison Landsberg calls an "affective engagement" with the past, tying the viewer to an event or person and fostering a sense of intimacy that does more than transport the viewer back in time. Affect, she suggests, can also work to disorient the viewer, forcibly pushing him or her out of the narrative and back into his or her own body. By analyzing these specific popular history formats, Landsberg shows the unique way they provoke historical thinking and produce historical knowledge, prompting a reconsideration of what constitutes history and an understanding of how history works in the contemporary mediated public sphere.
|Publisher:||Columbia University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)|
About the Author
Alison Landsberg is an associate professor in the Department of History and Art History and the Department of Cultural Studies at George Mason University. She is the author of Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture.
Table of Contents
1. Theorizing Affective Engagement in the Historical Film
2. Waking the Past: The Historically Conscious Television Drama
3. Encountering Contradiction: Reality History TV
4. Digital Translations of the Past: Virtual History Exhibits
What People are Saying About This
In Engaging the Past, Landsberg moves towards a broader investigation of 'experiential' or 'affective history' and its relationship to the production and acquisition of historical knowledge. Given the culture today, this is not just a cutting edge book, it is one that will potentially inflect the way we think about the meaning of the word, history, in the future.