History Comes Alive
Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s
University of North Carolina Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Popular CultureNew Books Network July 2, 2018 Rebekah Buchanan
In History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), historian M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska examines Americans’ changing relationship to history in the 1960s and 1970s. Using the 1976 Bicentennial celebration and planning, Rymza-Pawlowska explores the new ways Americans engaged with the past. Starting with historical television such as Little House on the Prairie and the advent and success of miniseries such as Roots, Rymsza-Pawlowska examines the various ways Americans began to interact with history. Rymsza-Pawlowska characterizes Americans’ relationship with history prior to this time period as separate from the present. She argues that the shift in the ways in which popular culture interacted with history created more emotional connections to history—considering feelings and motivations of historic individuals. Through live interactions, immersive museums, historical fiction, and living history events, Americans’ relationship with history was forever changed. Rymsza-Pawlowska’s book is an important exploration into the foundation for the way in which we experience and practice history today.
Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English at Western Illinois University. Her work examines the role of narrative in people’s lives. She researches zines, zine writers and the influence of music subcultures and fandom on writers and narratives. You can find more about her on her website, follow her on Twitter @rj_buchanan or email her at email@example.com.