Dr. Kara McCormack, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, will be giving a talk entitled “Imagining Tombstone: Hollywood, Historicity, and the Construction of a Usable Past” on Monday, February 19th, from 16.40 to 18.00 in room G-160. The talk is sponsored by the Department of American Culture and Literature. All members of the Bilkent community are invited to attend.
The abstract is as follows:
Imagining Tombstone: Hollywood, Historicity, and the Construction of a Usable Past
In the early 1880s, Tombstone, Arizona, became the fastest-growing silver-mining town in the American West, luring thousands to its camp with hopes of a better future. Two years after its founding, a thirty-second street fight went on to define Tombstone and its history long after the town’s last piece of silver was taken from its mines. Today Tombstone attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, hoping to recapture the wildness of its heyday, catch a glimpse of townspeople dressed as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, and explore modern-day Tombstone through the lens of its carefully abstracted history. Tourist expectations of Tombstone have been cultivated through a stream of Hollywood films and television series, history and legend, without which Tombstone would have become just another ghost town. Negotiating authenticity and economic exigencies, restoration and preservation efforts in Tombstone have been a concerted effort by civic boosters, wealthy outsiders, street performers, Hollywood imaginings, and tourism – the single biggest industry in town. “Imagining Tombstone” explores the ways Hollywood, the concepts of history and authenticity, preservation and performance interact in Tombstone. This piece demonstrates that Tombstone’s present and future rest not solely on a “usable past” but on a wide variety of avenues of sustainability that have earned Tombstone the reputation as “The Town too Tough to Die.” We can better understand the significance and salience of the mythic West by exploring the ways Tombstone has self-commodified; the symbiosis between Tombstone and Hollywood; and the ways Tombstone, Wyatt Earp, and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral continue to resonate with audiences and consumers around the world.