by Caroline Guthrie
Rutgers University Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-9788-1881-1 | Paper: 978-1-9788-1880-4 | eISBN: 978-1-9788-1884-2
Library of Congress Classification E169.12.G868 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.40973

In The American Historical Imaginary: Contested Narratives of the Past in Mass Culture Caroline Guthrie examines the American relationship to versions of the past that are known to be untrue and asks why do these myths persist, and why do so many people hold them so dear? To answer these questions, she examines popular sites where fictional versions of history are formed, played through, and solidified. From television’s reality show winners and time travelers, to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, to the movies of Quentin Tarantino, this book examines how mass culture imagines and reimagines the most controversial and painful parts of American history. In doing so, Guthrie explores how contemporary ideas of national identity are tied to particular versions of history that valorize white masculinity and ignores oppression and resistance. Through her explanation and analysis of what she calls the historical imaginary, Guthrie offers new ways of attempting to combat harmful myths of the past through the imaginative engagements they have dominated for so long.