Chair and Commentator: Tracy Revels, Wofford College
This panel investigates forms of history that emerge in public space and in historical narratives that shape—and are shaped by—the spaces they inhabit. Focusing on several historically significant communities in central Florida and southwest Georgia, panelists explore a variety of narrative forms that town promoters—past and present—deployed to promote and define their communities to each other and to the outside world. From the late nineteenth century to the present, these forms of public memory have created appealing mythologies and supplied strategies of empowerment and self-definition. Such narratives were written literally and metaphorically in newspapers and tourism materials, on plaques, in murals, in monuments, in historic preservation, in commemorative festivals, and in urban design. While many of these public texts have been intentionally created by historical societies, writers, municipalities or and booster associations, others are unintentional stories evident only through their absence, or implied in the very brick and mortar of a streetscape’s placement, a building’s location in the landscape or decisions about preservation. The panel explores the power dynamics inherent in these historical forms.
Recorded in April 2018 at the OAH Annual Meeting held in Sacremento, California as part of the Mellon-funded Amplified Initiative.