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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates two prominent examples of American Civil War-era history: Ken Burns’s “The Cause (1861)” (the opening installment of his 11-hour documentary film) and Bill T. Jones’s 2009 Fondly Do We Hope. . . Fervently Do We Pray (an evening-length live dance theater performance). Careful examination and description reveals each artist’s theatrical strategies, among them the use of narrative arcs, uses of the body to produce empathy in viewers, and strategies that prompt intertextual reading. By comparing and contrasting these two works as film and live dance, the chapter challenges assumptions about public history, historiography, empathy, race, manhood, and theatricality. Each piece engages the world of ideas around the Civil War and their use of movement allows for various interpretations of information in different contexts. Viewers, then, are asked to take responsibility for understanding and interrogate our implications in the past, present and future.

Keywords: Ken Burns, Bill T. Jones, The Civil War, Fondly Do We Hope . . . Fervently Do We Pray, cinesthetic body, public history, theatricality, historiography

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