The Faculty of Political Science of the University of Milan will host an international conference entitled “Creating the Past: Early American Museums between History and Edu-entertainment” on November 18, 2011. With the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification, this conference proposes to examine the American experience and the various efforts to preserve and restore historic sites dating from the Colonial period to the Civil War.
Examining the different events and issues that make up the American past, we would like to focus on both history museums and historic sites which have functioned as show cases of nationhood. At the same time we examine whether these museums were successful in packaging American history and creating cultural objects and beliefs, with particular attention to knowledge production, memorialization, and cultural tourism. We are of course thinking of major national sites such as Plymouth Plantation, Colonial Williamsburg, and Gettysburg, but also of smaller history museums like Thomas Paine's cottage in New Rochelle or James Monroe's home at Ashlawn-Highlands. Analyzing the construction of historic memory allows us to question the problematic demarcation line between education and entertainment, as well as patriotism and revisionism.
Scholars interested in presenting a paper are invited to send their proposals before the end of August 2011. Paper proposals should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The organizers will offer two days stay in the center of Milan, lunch and dinner for the day of the conference, but the speakers are expected to cover their own travel expenses.
University of Milan
Via Conservatorio, 7
Phone: 0039 02 50318907
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