Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Klaus Krippendorff

Abstract

To learn about the changes taking place in the historical documentary production community in the United States during a particular moment defined by the downsizing of the NEH, I spoke with community members. After conversing with nearly fifty individuals associated with this "art world" (including documentarians. historians, funders, legislators and spectators — called "stakeholders" in my study) certain overall patterns emerged. It became clear that decisions regarding historical documentary production are always negotiated within a social context. My central argument is that this extended community resembles a cultural ecology• in the sense that its members are interconnected. Using this ecology metaphor, I argue that stakeholders inevitably structure each other's choices (directly or indirectly), though these spheres of influence are not always openly discussed. For example, historians advise documentarians, who react to suggestions by funders, who are constrained by legislators, who must answer to spectators, and so on; all stakeholders participate in this ecology and no one is fully in charge. Historical truth is therefore a political matter, negotiated among many interested parties. As a researcher, I am also a member of this ecology, and thus conceive of this project as an ecological narrative illuminating and participating in the process of making history.

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