Please complete the following assignments in time for class on Friday, January 21. Please be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, please be prepared to discuss these media and readings in class.
As you may know, the PSU Library facilitates student connection to a number of digital films via Films on Demand. I have set up a playlist for you that is accessible here. Please note that you may need to use your PSU Odin login to access the library site and establish a Films on Demand account here.
In this playlist, I have posted a link to an episode of Ken Burns’ series The Civil War. Please watch Episode 9: The Better Angels of Our Nature.
Then, read Eric Foner’s letter Changing Interpretation at Gettysburg NMP and David W. Blight’s article “What Will Peace among the Whites Bring?”: Reunion and Race in the Struggle over the Memory of the Civil War in American Culture” (link to the article in JSTOR).
1. Please post responses to the following questions:
- For our project, what can we learn from Burns’ production and the subsequent critique?
- Do you recognize any of the interpretive techniques now utilized by the NPS? Which ones?
- What might we (and might we not) want to model from Burns?
- How can our work be informed by the critiques of both Burns’ documentary and the NPS’ late-1990’s approach to historical interpretation at Gettysburg?
Next, read David L. Larsen’s article Be Relevant or Become a Relic: Meeting the Public Where They Are.
2. Please post responses to the following the questions:
- How can the NPS’ approach to historical interpretation — represented by this article and the readings, classroom discussion, and videos in the “Meaningful Interpretation” series — help us to address the themes in Holding the High Ground and also avoid the pitfalls identified in the critiques of both Burns’ documentary and the NPS’ past historical interpretation?
- Are Foner’s specific critiques of NPS interpretation at Gettysburg in 1998 addressed by the NPS’ approach to interpretation and the Civil War sesquicentennial in 2011? Please be specific.
Finally, please visit the website for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities podcast BackStory with the American History Guys, then select and listen to one full-length episode. NOTE: all past episodes are available in their archives for free download or streaming.
3. Please post responses to the following questions:
- What episode did you choose?
- What is the intended audience?
- Did the hosts utilize any interpretive techniques you’ve studied? How?
- How does the profession of the hosts (historians within academia) affect the message?
- In his article above, Larsen argues that “resource professionals must take an anthropological position of understanding perspectives and diverse meanings, and stand outside of perspectives and meanings in order to communicate and provide opportunities for audiences to make personal, real, and significant connections to the resource.” Is this approach reflected in the podcast episode you’ve chosen? How or how not?
- What technical aspects of the podcast should we consider in crafting our plan? Length? Multiple hosts? Guests? Voiced primary sources? Sound effects or music?