Comments on: The limited (and queer?) vision of American historical reenacting http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:24:08 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Temporarily Anon http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-946612 Thu, 12 Jan 2012 18:11:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-946612 Thompson discusses cowboys and indians/TV as an influence on the reenactors she was working with also, although I also didn’t see much of that. I think there’s a bit of a generation divide in a lot of reenactor groups right now, where you have people in their 20s/30s who are more aware of race/gender issues and presentation issues than the folks who got the hobby going and are now in their 50s/60s. A lot of the younger folks in reenacting that I knew either grew up with a parent who was reenacting, or (this is how I got into it) saw living history museums/events as a kid and were so intrigued that they jumped in as soon as they were able to drive themselves to events.

In my experience, kids who grow up or discover an interest in reenacting use their interest to guide what they do in school and end up with a deeper education than the more self-taught older reenactors. Since becoming an academic, I’ve had several students in my classes tell me late in the semester that they took class x because they’re reenactors and something about the class spoke to them.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-946505 Thu, 12 Jan 2012 15:10:17 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-946505 That may be true of you ATA, but according to the Kowalczk article, the vast majority of reenactors are of the demographic that Undine cites–people who were children in the 50s and early 60s, and who grew up playing cowboys & Indians, unreflexively & unironically.

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By: Also Temporarily Anon http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-946487 Thu, 12 Jan 2012 14:45:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-946487 Sorry to tell you this Undine, but I’m waaaayyyy… to young for that to be the cultural influence with me. And I’d venture to say that most of the people i knew in the hobby as well.

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By: Undine http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-946145 Thu, 12 Jan 2012 04:45:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-946145 This is a fascinating post and set of comments. In thinking about the increasing popularity of reenactment since the sixties, I wonder if there’s any connection between it and all the “American hero” type television shows that were so popular in the earliest reenactors’ childhoods: Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Francis Marion, the movie Johnny Tremaine,and so on. Do all these television and Disney versions have a role to play? Did they maybe emphasize the importance of history or maybe make the reenactors want to redo those versions and make it more real?

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945459 Wed, 11 Jan 2012 06:18:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945459 When I was doing my diss. research in the UK, I had a very good mature student who had come to history from being a (British) Civil War re-enactor. He was working as a truck driver delivering beer to pubs, went back and finished A-levels and then went to University. Probably the best student I had. And when we talked about the Civil War, he talked about how heavy the clothes were – a dimension of the period I’d never thought about. And one of my best students last semester had done lots of Renaissance Fayre stuff, and it showed. So I’ve always had a lot of respect for reenactors and their attention to the material conditions of life.

My only concern mirrors something I’ve noticed at living history museums too: while they don’t present life as easy (really, Plimouth is pretty bleak) you also never see the vagrants, the beggars, or the infirm widow who can’t do anything. They are historically accurate about what they do include, but not what they don’t include, which is the bottom of the social scale. Similarly, the Ren Fayre costumes I’ve seen strike me as good yeoman family costumes, probably a step above what the poorest would have worn.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945420 Wed, 11 Jan 2012 05:05:25 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945420 I would add to the category of “reenactment” more experimental and analytic enterprises like the ones by agronomists and anthropologists who showed that Inca growing methods could consistently produce better yields than the best that could be offered by Cargill; or–here in Pennsylvania–summer-long exercises that demonstrated that gym-fit twentieth century specimens were unable to sustainedly complete the work regimes that colonists unremarkedly recorded having carried out year after year (until they dropped dead at a ripe-old 56!). There can be a “walk-through”/inquiry-based dimension to reenactment that doesn’t necessarily have to include tents selling funnel cakes, or feature brooding clouds of gunsmoke hanging over the fields at sunset. I don’t do any of that, I should say, but I think it belongs in the category, and that it can offer different ways of understanding the more inanimate evidence we often use.

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By: Janice http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945368 Wed, 11 Jan 2012 04:02:08 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945368 I was ‘outed’ as a historical reenactor while a grad student by a full-colour photo of myself on the cover of the country’s largest circulation paper. Oops! It wasn’t a complete surprise as I’d made a habit of bringing needlework to seminars. Still, I know that I was low on the food chain in the eyes of some faculty. Their loss!

I value material history as a key element in my teaching. I admit that I can get a bit over the top when I wax rhapsodic about early Bronze-Age smelting or late medieval rag-pulp paper making. I know a fair bit about some of these topics because I’ve been there on the front line with reenactors watching them at their craft or turning my hand to the technique. I’ve also spent a fair bit of time with engineers, artists, scientists and archaeologists, learning from their study and practice. I do that because I find it interesting but also because I find it valuable for my teaching and research.

We’re not all just playing war games, dress-up or uncritical adoration. Yet that’s all that some academics and pundits see, witness today’s Toronto Star columnist video column dismissing 1812 reeanctments and beyond: http://www.thestar.com/videozone/1113203–rick-salutin-but-i-digress

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945240 Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:43:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945240 I’m sure it’s related, ATA. I was thinking the same thing during yesterday’s discussion, too.

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By: Also Temporarily Anon http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945234 Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:34:59 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945234 Historiann,

I should probably add that my department is relatively hostile (or I should say non-receptive) to a lot of public history. Not sure it’s related though.

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By: Also Temporarily Anon http://www.historiann.com/2012/01/09/the-limited-and-queer-vision-of-american-historical-reenacting/comment-page-1/#comment-945233 Tue, 10 Jan 2012 23:33:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=17728#comment-945233 Temporarily Anon…

I think of the books on the subject I prefer Thompson’s to Confederates in the Attic. Not just because it was closer to the periods I did, but because I felt to an extent like Horowitz’s book has the air of distain for “ignorant” southerners. When I step back to seriously discuss the educational value I see it is about memory more than anything else. I’m not sure that could be said for the people who do Roman re-enacting or SCA, but I believe that there are serious scholars that are in the closet there too.

I know of at least one friend of mine who is an art historian who does not work on the period she re-enacts will drive a fair distance from where she lives because the local re-enacting groups will do events at places where she knows people on the staff.

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