This paper examines the recent PBS program Frontier House, and its negotiation of the documentary and reality genres of television. While the documentary has long been used as a didactic device, the juxtaposition of this with the reality program may serve the additional purpose of allowing both participants and viewers to negotiate their own preconceived ideas and even misconceptions of history. As the nature of historical inquiry shifts from a “monumental history” of important personages and political acts, to social and cultural history of the experience of the “common man”, the new hybrid genre becomes extremely effective in dealing with the new development.
Frontier House: Reality Television and the Historical Experience traces the way in which the producers of this program use both the realities and the myths of the American Frontier to facilitate a new discourse which is somewhere in between.
Full Article (PDF):Malgorzata-Rymsza-Pawlowska-Frontier-House.pdf