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Masculinity and Femininity in Television's Historical Fictions YoungIndianaJones Chronicles and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Mimi White For several months in 1993 on Saturday nights, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles aired on ABC at the same time that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was shown on CBS. Dr. Quinn was introduced mid-season, and its immediate ratings success secured its renewal for thefollowingseason, concomitant with the cancellation ofthe ratings-weak YoungIndianaJones Chronicles. Both programs project a sense of "quality family television," deploying a specific range of referential and aesthetic markers, while aiming to attract younger viewers along with their parents. More crucially, both programs are historical fictions offering revisionist histories and embedding a sense of progressive multiculturalism into their narrative constructions. This conjunction of institutional placement and multicultural historical content presents an interesting case for comparative analysis. Both programs develop shifting perspectives on nationalism, internationalism, and multicultural understanding, engendering history for popular consumption. Reading these programs in relation to one another demonstrates how primetime dramatic television series not only represent history, but also negotiate terms for historical understanding. Strategies introduced in this context include using the past as a site for investigating social-cultural concerns of the present, critiquing and revising the past from the perspective of the present, and even suggesting that the present is open to reexamination from the perspective of a revised past. To the extent that these operations occur simultaneously , even in contradiction, the programs enact the limits and possibilities ofhistorical fiction in commercial prime-time television. A comparative analysis ofthe two programs discerns the manner in which television's multicultural 38 | Mimi White historical fictions articulate gender with ideas of progressive enlightenment on the one hand and the containment of diversity on the other. The YoungIndianaJones Chronicles (1991-1993) Indy is the eponymous boy hero of The Young IndianaJones Chronicles.1 In the series two different actors portrayed Indy, embodying the character at different ages. The younger Indy (Corey Carrier), about ten years old, travels around the world with his parents as his Princeton professor father pursues lectures and research during a sabbatical. The older Indy (Sean Patrick Flanery), between seventeen and twenty, is an independent adventurer, who rebels against his father byjoining the Belgian army under an assumed name. He ends up fighting in Africa and at Verdun, becoming a spy, and working as a translator after the war. Throughout the series Indy is placed in various global locales, where he comes upon famous historical figures, including: Sigmund Freud, CarlJung, andAlfred Adlerin Vienna (1908);T.E. Lawrence, first in Egypt (1908) and years later in Palestine (1917) and then in Paris (1919); Jiddu Krishnamurti in Benares, India (1910); Serge Diaghilev and Pablo Picasso in Barcelona (1917); Thomas Edison in New Jersey (1916); Kemal Ataturk in Istanbul (1918); Theodore Roosevelt in British East Africa (1909); and Mata Hari in Paris (1916), to name only a few. Through the course ofthese encounters, IndianaJones (who uses the selfselected nickname in lieu of his father's preference, Henry Jr.) is endowed with a distinctive historical vision and place. His relation to the past he inhabits is influenced by modes of historical understanding from the present in which the program is produced, as well as by the fictional adult he will become in the well-known IndianaJones movies that circulated prior to his television incarnation. There is continuity in his fictionalpersona, as the historical situations he encounters in the TV series contribute to the global intelligence and expertise on which he draws in his fictional film future. From this perspective, the character scrutinizes his situation (and glimpses possibilities for the future) in terms of multicultural revision. This position is facilitated by Indy's status as a fictional character in an historical narrative, for the series can exploit present-day knowledge and awareness of the character's future fate to insert contemporary perspectives into the past. In the process it may hint at alternative possible, even counterfactual, futures. The episode "Paris, May 1919"—and most of the episodes are named in this way, with a place and a date—is exemplary in this respect. Indy observes the postwar peace process as a confrontation between select Western imperial powers (France, England, and the United States) and more diverse na- Masculinity and Femininity | 39 tional and ethnic interest groups from around the globe. Indy is working as a translator for the American delegation at the peace conference, with the possibility oflong-term employment in the Foreign Service of the U.S. State Department...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813158297
Related ISBN
9780813121901
MARC Record
OCLC
65184230
Pages
392
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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