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Palgrave Macmillan

Spectacle Culture and American Identity


ISBN 9781137360618
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Looking at the emergent industries of spectacle practices in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century mass culture, Spectacle Culture and American Identity investigates the immersive energies of American landscape and history as a fluid scene space. The changing dynamics of the American experience are viewed in relation to the ways entertainment technologies flourishing in spectacle attractions communicate iconic sites and scenes. Arguing the ways in which spectacle immersion enacts an on-going civilian dialogue with landscape, Tenneriello uses a series of case studies featuring panoramas, multimedia performance, theatrical spectacles, exhibition sites, and museum dioramas to trace the country's movement from agrarian to multinational economies.

Susan Tenneriello is Assistant Professor of Theatre at Baruch College, USA.

Introduction: Setting the Scene
1. Immersive Scenes: Visual Media, Painted Panoramas, and Landscape Narratives
2. Moving Scenes: Multimedia Performance along the Mississippi River
3. Entertainment Scenes: Industrial Strength Brands of Site Specific Spectacle
4. Theme Scenes: Producing Global Strategies on US Exhibition Stages
5. Instructional Scenes: Heritage Preservation, Commerce, and Museum Dioramas
Epilogue: Visionary Spaces


"In Spectacle Culture and American Identity, Susan Tenneriello examines how the drama of nation captures the mind's eye and infuses the political, social, and economic landscape, moving and static. The constructed spectacle idea and image that is America became pervasive, but the panoramic vision of America the bountiful was not always benevolent. Covering a vast historical span from 1815 to 1940, followed by a twenty-first century update in the epilogue, Spectacle Culture and American Identity is provocatively comprehensive." Barbara Lewis, Associate Professor, Director of Trotter Institute, The University of Massachusetts Boston, USA
"Backgrounds, however static, are coded. Several technologies were used to produce the spectacular, immersive views of America studied here, and numerous displays across the country meant that they reached much more of the population than standard scenery in urban theatres. Tenneriello demonstrates the political uses to which reproductions of the American landscape were put - and intimates that their present-day descendants continue to be exploited. Look around you and think about what you see." - Judith Milhous, CUNY Graduate Center, USA
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