Homogenizing History

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Anke Bösel

Homogenizing History. Accommodationist Discourse in Ken Burns's The Civil War

ISBN 978-3-88476-580-7, ISBN 3-88476-580-9, 206 S., kt., € 24,00 (2003)

(Mosaic - Studien und Texte zur amerikanischen Kultur und Geschichte, Bd. 17)

Ken Burns's documentary film work has contributed decisevly to acts of commemoration on U.S. television. His nine-part, eleven-hour television series The Civil War – initially broadcast on PBS in September 1990 – was his first great public success, establishing his reputation as an eminent documentary filmmaker. This study demonstrates how Burns's documentary on the American Civil War created enough interest and pleasure for nearly forty million television viewers to become a major media event. It examines the representational strategies prevalent in The Civil War and explores their functions and effects. Homogenizing History then proceeds to analyze the media coverage on the series and illustrates how the public discourse on the film is linked with audience responses. Ultimately, this study shows how Burns's documentary series is interconnected with political, historiographical and popular culture discourse of the 1980s.