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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2006

AMS 315 • From Museums to Main Street: Historic Preservation and American Culture-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28510 MWF
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
BEN 1.106

Course Description

This course studies the relationship between historic preservation and American culture. Historic preservation is one of the oldest land-use movements in the United States. Preservationists have ensured that certain homes, plantations, battlefields, and downtowns remain unchanged so that we can experience the past the way it really was. Consequently, preservationists have had and continue to play a significant role in shaping the American landscape. Despite their intentions, however, preservationists often paint pictures of the past that are far from complete; they cannot help but approach restoration efforts from the cultural perspective of their present. In this course we will study the history of the preservation movement in the United States to understand how contemporary needs, values and assumptions influence how preservationists chose and choose to interpret the past. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to engage in thoughtful discussions about the following questions. What is historic preservation? How are the stories preservationists tell about the past different from those of historians? How do state sponsored preservation initiatives differ from private efforts? How does historic preservation both reinforce and challenge such basic themes in American culture as race, class, gender, and nation? We will answer these questions through critical reading and writing and by engaging with texts using an interdisciplinary approach.


Benson, Susan Porter, Stephen Brier, Roy Rosenzweig, Eds. Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public West, Patricia. Domesticating History: The Political Origins of Americas House Museums Richard Handler and Eric Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg Page, Max and Mason, Randall, Ed. Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States


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