As some of you know, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is opening a new exhibit on March 24 exploring the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry. This has taken up nearly all of my work time since I became Research Historian in November. It’s been fun immersing myself in the histories of these two teams and collaborating with the Hall of Fame and the clubs themselves has been a lifetime thrill. However, as the opening gets closer, the same sorts of questions I get about my work on music are popping up: Why should baseball be in a museum exhibit? What does baseball have to do with Lincoln? Is baseball really history? I wish I could say these questions reflect genuine curiosity but they usually don’t. They’re almost always pejorative–a phenomenon we cultural historians deal with constantly. So, I decided to dust off the old blog and offer my thoughts on why sports history is very much worthy of historical consideration and exploration. Read More
A ragtag group of rebels sustain an extended military revolution through pure gumption and righteousness against an omnipresent, corrupt, industrial empire. Sound familiar? You either just recognized the underlying narrative of the Lost Cause or, more likely, the plot of the most popular and influential franchise in film history. Star Wars never really left us, but it’s been inescapable for the past few months as we await The Force Awakens. I have only a scant impression of where this trilogy is going but I do know that, when George Lucas was in charge, the series wore its historical influences on its sleeves. Star Wars is often touted as an adept melange of Lucas’s cinematic influences, but it’s also a collection of historical echoes and allusions that resonate enough with audiences to add familiarity without becoming overbearingly allegorical. That begs the question: how much of the American Civil War is mixed into the Galactic Civil War? Read More
In my last post, I fretted about some of the unethical choices I was making in Ultimate General: Gettysburg. I’ve continued to think about the issue over the past couple of days and I have a few more comments because I think for a certain subset of people, these games are the primary way they interact with history. In essence, the central question here is the same that’s preoccupied designers and critics of modern games like Grand Theft Auto: Is something that’s immoral in real life equally immoral in a video game?
So, I finally saw Selma this past weekend and have a few comments about Civil War images and symbols in the film. I think it’s worth considering how it uses them and what that tells us about their current and historical associations. Read More