Interpreting Historic Site Narratives: Duke Homestead on Tour Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Kirby, Rachel
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of American Studies
  • This thesis uses Duke Homestead State Historic Site and Tobacco Museum as an ethnographic case study to explore a new vocabulary for understanding the power, politics, and production of historical narratives as communicated on guided walking tours. By examining narratives as they fluctuate along an arc from the scripted, the spoken, and the received, I discuss moments of sense-making, discomfort, and disconnect as they occur on the historic site. I focus on the tours’ inclusion, exclusion, and negotiation of Caroline, a young girl who was owned and enslaved by Washington Duke, through which societal expectations of history can be examined in relation to the desires and goals of those who wrote the tour script. Her story offers an example of narrative discomfort, negotiated through hesitation, elision, and derision within the spoken presentation . Many voices contribute to the construction and perpetuation of historical narratives, and this thesis uses the voices of site employees, interns, volunteers, and visitors to understand the dynamism of place-based history.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Berlinger, Gabrielle
  • Herman, Bernard
  • Ferris, Marcie Cohen
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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