My current book project, History Comes Alive: Public History and Popular Culture in the 1970s (forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press, “Studies in U.S. Culture” series, Fall, 2017) traces the emergence of immersive engagement with the past in a variety of contexts in postwar American culture. I am especially interested in the affective qualities of historical memory—the impulse to understand the past on emotional rather than informational terms; through re-performance and interaction as opposed to observation and contemplation. I analyze archival evidence from a range of popular history initiatives including the building preservation movement in New England, federal and local celebration of the 1976 Bicentennial, the use of new media in history museum exhibition, history-based television programming, and protest organizations like the People’s Bicentennial Commission, a leftist organization that believed themselves to be the true heirs of the American Revolution. I read the production and reception of these texts in the context of a large-scale transformation in how Americans both understood and used the past in contemplating the present and forming and reforming identities.
My writing has been published in Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies and Journal of Popular Film and Television.