For the majority of the twentieth century, Americans thought of the past as foundational to, but separate from, the present, and they learned and thought about history in informational terms. But Rymsza-Pawlowska argues that the popular culture of the 1970s reflected an emerging desire to engage and enact the past on a more emotional level: to consider the feelings and motivations of historic individuals and, most importantly, to use this in reevaluating both the past and the present. This thought-provoking book charts the era's shifting feeling for history, and explores how it serves as a foundation for the experience and practice of history making today.
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History Comes Alive is a brilliant and fresh excavation of a cultural moment in the 1970s when the way Americans relate to their past was radically transformed. But it is more. Rymsza-Pawlowska pioneers a superb method of analysis--befitting a world of mass media, changing technologies, and a constant rebalancing of public- vs. private-sector responsibilities for cultural activity--that can be applied as well to the 1920s and to our own day. No historian before has seen history-making so broadly and creatively.--Richard Rabinowitz, author of Curating America
History Comes Alive is an original and thought-provoking exploration of popular historical consciousness in 1970s America. Through deft readings of TV mini-series, reenactments, museum exhibits, and multimedia installations, Rymsza-Pawlowska shows powerfully how Americans embraced a new relationship with the past.--Benjamin Filene, University of North Carolina at Greensboro