PBS's Frontier House appearing at Film & History Conference on the West(s), November 7 - 10, 2002, Kansas City, Kansas.
Frontier House: 21st Century Families Living in a 19th Century World.
Conference host, Dr. Peter C. Rollins and Dr. Ken Dvorak (Area Chair: Frontier House) are pleased to announce a special evening devoted to the current PBS series "Frontier House."
On Thursday evening, November 7, Beth Hoppe, executive producer of Frontier House, will moderate a roundtable in which she and Historical consultants Linda Peavy, Ursula Smith, and Sue Cain will offer a "behind-the-screens" look at the spring mini-series in which three twenty-first century families spent five months under the scrutiny of PBS cameras as they struggled to build homes, plant gardens, acquire and provide for farm animals, and prepare themselves and their livestock for their first winter as homesteaders in 1883 Montana Territory. Co-produced by WNET-Thirteen in New York City and Wall-to-Wall Television in London, the series set PBS viewing records and touched off a nationwide dialogue concerning 19th and 21st century family and community values. Designed to provide a forum for discussion of the ways in which Frontier House either called into question or helped to perpetuate media myths concerning homesteading in the American West, the roundtable is an opening night event at "Film & History 2002: The American West(s) in Film, TV, and History" a conference, set for November 7-10, 2002 at the Kansas City (MO) Marriott, Country Club Plaza.
The roundtable will open with producer Beth Hoppe's revelations concerning the inspiration behind the Frontier House series and her comments on the logistical complexities of producing a reality history program of this nature and scope. Living history expert Sue Cain, domestic arts consultant, will follow with an overview of her work and that of the other hands-on historians charged with recommending-and sometimes providing-authentic food, clothing, tools, housing, livestock, and agricultural implements for use by the latter-day homesteading families. She will also discuss the gendered roles of the orginial homesteading families versus the liberties taken by the modern families and will note the extent to which modern environmental, health, and safety concerns impacted the ability of the producers to make the experiences of the Frontier House families true to those of 1880s Montana homesteaders.
Peavy and Smith, the project's senior historians and co-authors - with producer Simon Shaw - of the companion book for the series, will place the experiences of the Frontier House families in historical perspective by sharing examples of parallel experiences described in the diaries, memoirs, and letters of those whose homesteading ventures lasted for years, rather than months. In addition to touching on gender, class, and race as factors in the experiences of the modern and original homesteaders, the historians will discuss the Frontier House production as bold sociological experiment from which scholars - and ordinary viewers - can learn much about family and community dynamics among those in search of their particular versions of the American Dream.
Audience participation will be an integral part of this event. For further information regarding this event please contact Dr. Ken Dvorak. Deadline for paper or panel proposals is August 15, 2002!
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