Americanization of History: Conflation of Time and Culture in Film and Television

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9781443825795: Americanization of History: Conflation of Time and Culture in Film and Television
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This collection of essays searches for how history and literature translate into filmic texts reflecting the time and place of the translation. Major motion pictures as well as television movies and series are the sites of this exploration. The opening essay surveys what films tell us it means to be set in a medieval time, while the second looks at one of the most powerful movie studios since the earliest days of movie-making, Walt Disney Studios. The second section investigates classic Americana by delving specifically into the hegemonic power of Walt Disney Studios, by considering the union between the American pastime of baseball and the great white way of Broadway, and by discovering the constantly morphing relationship of the icons of the Wild West. Section three looks at characters living outside of roles considered socially appropriate in their world: vampire slayers, mobsters, and those with multiple personalities. The fourth section studies how present-day mores of power and beauty control revisions of historically-based stories through issues of vengeance, race, sexuality, and the notion of beauty itself. The final section takes up the question of what it means to historicize the present moment, and analyzes the current period via a very popular and long-running show's depiction of sexuality as accepted or rejected within a paradigm that appears not merely to tolerate, but actively to promote, deviance. The last essay questions the very concepts of time and history themselves. The articles do not support a single conclusion regarding this topic, but instead provide a variety of perspectives to help complicate the issue for the reader.

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Review:

This collection transcends familiar notions of fidelity to ask profoundly important questions about Hollywood s frequently spurious representations of history. Even when the authors interpretations seem debatable, their insights are invariably provocative and enlightening. Scholars, students, and casual movie buffs alike will find Americanization of History a compelling read. --Joseph P. Moser, Professor of English and Film Studies, Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts, USA

The essays collected here offer important new perspectives on the appropriation of history in contemporary media. The contributors skillfully explore recent reshapings of historical narratives in cultural artifacts imbued with American assumptions about gender, nostalgia, ethnicity, and war. The result is a fascinating, disturbing assessment of the state of historical knowledge in today s mass audiences --Christopher Morris, Author of The Hanging Figure: On Suspense and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock (2002)

Most educated Americans today understand, and perhaps bemoan, that our nation grasps its own history often through its literature and popular culture. This new anthology, adroitly edited by Kathleen McDonald, helps its mainly academic audience to better understand, and thus to better communicate to its students, just how popular heroes like Mad Men s Don Draper flee society in the footsteps of Huck Finn; how adventurous young women like Vampire Slaying Buffy, in the mode of Richardson s Pamela, are rendered impotent by the realization of sexual desire; and, overall, how films that are set in earlier, more peaceful and happy times (Take Me Out to the Ball Game) actually more pointedly critique the conflicted eras in which they are made --Terry Barr, Professor of English and Director of the Media Studies Program, Presbyterian College, South Carolina, USA

About the Author:

Kathleen McDonald took her Ph.D. in English Literature from the University at Albany, SUNY in 2005. She has been an Assistant Professor of English at Norwich University in Vermont since that time. Her areas of interest include women's private writing in Eighteenth-Century America, the American mystery novel, and, of course, the intersection of history and popular culture in film and literature, as evidenced in this collection.

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