Historical Holograms: Finding the “Real” in Popular Historical Literature and Film
This course will explore popular American depictions of history in recent literature and film (1960s and after) and the problem of what constitutes “real” history in an increasingly fragmented, diverse, and globalized cultural space. This issue has led some critics to view the practice of popular historical writing (particularly writing for mass publication or wide film distribution) as lacking any capacity for politically or socially useful representation – that is, such writing as merely the conjuration of historical holograms. Alongside these concerns, the course will ask students to consider how capital may affect and intensify this process and how contemporary neoliberal and multicultural political rhetorics may shape and change the very fabric of our historical reality.
Course texts may include writing by Alice Walker, John Irving, Diana Gabaldon, Annie Proulx, Neal Stephenson, or Cormac McCarthy and films by Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Lee Daniels, George Lucas, Ava DuVernay, or Robert Zemeckis.