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Exhibiting Patriotism
Creating and Contesting Interpretations of American Historic Sites
Teresa Bergman (Author)
253 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / Jan, 2013
Paperback (978-1-59874-597-9)
Hardback (978-1-59874-596-2)
eBook (978-1-61132-679-6)
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Related Interest
  - Communication & Media Studies
  - Cultural Studies & the Arts
  - History
  - Museum Studies & Practice

Winner 2013 Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award

American nationalism, patriotism and citizenship are proudly on display at historical sites across America—but they are also contested and reshaped by visitors and their engagement with those
"Bergman’s book will surely become a staple among public historians and scholars of American culture and memory. Each chapter’s discreet and accessible case study could easily be extracted for students of Public History and American Studies at all levels. Demonstrating the importance of understanding institutional approaches alongside public reactions to historic sites, Bergman excels in illuminating the hidden elements of citizenship, nation, and patriotism that emerge from our nation’s monuments and memorials. "

- Jennifer M. Black, Journal of American Culture

" Bergman’s analysis is built on a remarkable range and novel use of primary sources…The case studies in Exhibiting Patriotism raise thorny, complicated, and necessary questions about how museums and historic sites can responsibly respond to stakeholders and the public. "

- Modupe Labode, Museums & Social Issues

"[This] impressively researched volume of case studies is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of public history-making. Drawing on archival sources, direct observation, and interviews, Bergman provides detailed accounts of the origins, transformations over time, and current conditions of five American sites/institutions where shifting and often conflicted interpretations of patriotism, nationalism, and citizenship have played out in the public sphere...The most valuable contribution of this volume are its fine-grained accounts of the myriad ideological and political forces that have informed the shifting construction of historical meaning."

- John Dorst, Journal of Anthropological Research

" ...Surveying visitors is an increasing demand of professional organizations, including the accreditation commission of the American Alliance of Museums. Exhibiting Patriotism provides good examples of why this work is necessary, and it outlines some of the pitfalls that may be expected along the way. Furthermore, Bergman’s research is current – she visited sites as recently as 2012 – and this book demonstrates that these issues have not died since the revolution in academia in the 1960s or the culture wars of the 1990s. Museums continue to wrestle with these problems and deal with them in innovative ways. Criticism like this, especially from someone outside the museum field, is necessary to remind us of the ways we can improve our own museums. "

- History News

" Taken together, the case studies offer a rich portrayal of the issues involved in reconceptualizing patriotism as a multicultural endeavor in an age of visitor-oriented museum practice. The book is written in a style accessible to undergraduates, and offers concrete examples of real world issues in the museum field. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries. "


"Our national monuments, and the onsite films that frame our understanding of them, receive well-deserved scrutiny in Teresa Bergman's book. The sometimes strained efforts to acknowledge multiple constituencies and unrepresented minorities reveal how the Lincoln Memorial, Mt. Rushmore and other treasures possess chameleon-like identities that continue to evolve."

- Bill Nichols, San Francisco State University, author of “Introduction to Documentary”

"Exhibiting Patriotism makes an important contribution to our understanding of how the past is crafted and presented to the public. Teresa Bergman insightfully explores the subtle links between what we see at museums and historic sites and who we think we are as a nation. Her scholarship demonstrates that history really matters and how extensive is the ongoing contest between various groups of citizens to define just what it should be."

- John Edward Bodnar, Indiana University

places. In Exhibiting Patriotism, Bergman analyzes exhibits, interpretive materials, and orientation films at major US sites, from Mt. Rushmore and to the USS Arizona Memorial, where controversy has erupted over the stories they tell about the past. She shows how historic narratives are the result of dynamic relationships between institutions and the public, and how these relationships are changing in an era when museums are becoming more visitor-centered, seeing visitors as partners in historical interpretation. Drawing on film theory, memory studies, visual communication, and visitor studies, Bergman offers an important analysis for scholars and professionals in American studies, museum studies, public history, and communication and media studies.

Check out Teresa's interview on "The Museum Life" radio program hosted by Carol Bossert on VoiceAmerica Radio here.

Listen to Teresa's interview from the show "The History Guys" in which she touches on many of the ideas her book here.

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