Exhibiting Patriotism: Creating and Contesting Interpretations of American Historic Sites

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9781598745979: Exhibiting Patriotism: Creating and Contesting Interpretations of American Historic Sites

American nationalism, patriotism and citizenship are proudly on display at historical sites across America―but they are also contested and reshaped by visitors and their engagement with those places. In Exhibiting Patriotism, Bergman analyzes exhibits, interpretive materials, and orientation films at major US sites, from Mt. Rushmore and to the USS Arizona Memorial, where controversy has erupted over the stories they tell about the past. She shows how historic narratives are the result of dynamic relationships between institutions and the public, and how these relationships are changing in an era when museums are becoming more visitor-centered, seeing visitors as partners in historical interpretation. Drawing on film theory, memory studies, visual communication, and visitor studies, Bergman offers an important analysis for scholars and professionals in American studies, museum studies, public history, and communication and media studies.

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About the Author:

Teresa Bergman is an Associate Professor in the Communication Department at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and a former documentary filmmaker. She earned her B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley, her M.A. at San Francisco State University and her Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis. She teaches courses in documentary film criticism and production as well as critical theory and qualitative research methods. Her research focus is on the intersection of location, memory and representation at sites of public memory.

Review:

"Exhibiting Patriotism makes an important contribution to our understanding of how the past is crafted and presented to the public. Teresa Bergman insightfully explores the subtle links between what we see at museums and historic sites and who we think we are as a nation. Her scholarship demonstrates that history really matters and how extensive is the ongoing contest between various groups of citizens to define just what it should be."--John Edward Bodnar, Chancellor's Professor of History, Indiana University
"Our national monuments, and the onsite films that frame our understanding of them, receive well-deserved scrutiny in Teresa Bergman's book. The sometimes strained efforts to acknowledge multiple constituencies and unrepresented minorities reveal how the Lincoln Memorial, Mt. Rushmore and other treasures possess chameleon-like identities that continue to evolve."--Bill Nichols, San Francisco State University, author of "Introduction to Documentary"
"Taken together, the case studies offer a rich portrayal of the issues involved in reconceptualizing patriotism as a multicultural endeavor in an age of visitor-oriented museum practice. The book is written in a style accessible to undergraduates, and offers concrete examples of real world issues in the museum field. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries."--CHOICE
...Surveying visitors is an increasing demand of professional organizations, including the accreditation commission of the American Alliance of Museums. Exhibiting Patriotism provides good examples of why this work is necessary, and it outlines some of the pitfalls that may be expected along the way. Furthermore, Bergman s research is current she visited sites as recently as 2012 and this book demonstrates that these issues have not died since the revolution in academia in the 1960s or the culture wars of the 1990s. Museums continue to wrestle with these problems and deal with them in innovative ways. Criticism like this, especially from someone outside the museum field, is necessary to remind us of the ways we can improve our own museums. History News
"[This] impressively researched volume of case studies is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of public history-making. Drawing on archival sources, direct observation, and interviews, Bergman provides detailed accounts of the origins, transformations over time, and current conditions of five American sites/institutions where shifting and often conflicted interpretations of patriotism, nationalism, and citizenship have played out in the public sphere The most valuable contribution of this volume are its fine-grained accounts of the myriad ideological and political forces that have informed the shifting construction of historical meaning." John Dorst, Journal of Anthropological Research"

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