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Making History in the Second Person: Post-touristic Considerations for Living Historical Interpretation

From: Theatre Journal
Volume 58, Number 2, May 2006
pp. 291-312 | 10.1353/tj.2006.0119


Living history museums differ from other institutions through their use of performance, yet they forfeit the potential of performance to engender a more dynamic and responsible mode of historiography. Alternative living history models that incorporate "second-person interpretation," in which the visitors pretend to be part of the past, may be more efficacious in achieving this potential. This article explores how second-person interpretation can go beyond simply letting visitors try crafts or chores, both to make curatorial decisions and agendas visible to spectators and to give spectators more agency in determining the trajectory of their encounter with history.