Against the Ivory Tower: An Apologia for "Popular" Historical Documentaries

Dirk Eitzen


What makes a documentary good? What makes one bad? These two little questions account for probably eighty-five percent of the ink that has flowed in discussion of documentaries in general and historical documentaries in particular-both in academic circles and in the popular press. These questions continue to provoke strong disagreements. It is a safe bet that they are in no danger of a speedy resolution. Nonetheless, when it comes to the practical matter of doing things with historical documentaries -using them in the classroom, at conferences, in our writing- they are questions that insist upon answers. I do not have any all-purpose answers. I would like to make a case, however, concerning how we ought to approach the questions

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