Weeks, James Powell 1950- (Jim Weeks)
WEEKS, James Powell 1950-
Born 1950. Education: Pennsylvania State University, B.S., M.A., Ph.D. (American history), 2001; University of Pittsburgh, M.L.S.
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, instructor in American history; scholar in residence at Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Research and editing fellow, Papers of Abraham Lincoln, 2003.
(Under name Jim Weeks) Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2003.
An American history instructor at Pennsylvania State University and scholar in residence at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, James Powell Weeks has written a study of his state's—and the nation's—most famous battlefield: Gettysburg. While hundreds of books focus on the dramatic days of the battle itself, Weeks has chosen to explore the battlefield's history since then in Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine.
Ever since Abraham Lincoln used the battlefield as the backdrop for his immortal "Gettysburg Address," Americans have seen it as "hallowed ground," and Weeks' book explores the ways that attitude has played itself out. History Today contributor Adam Smith found that "Weeks demonstrates in this engrossing book that adding and detracting in the name of making the hallowed ground more purely hallowed has been the obsession of successive generations." The critic added, "The story told here is a multifaceted one. Most obviously it offers a fresh perspective on the contested memory of the Civil War. It is no less important as a window on the social history of leisure and tourism." The first visitors to the battlefield were genteel Victorian families who came in a spirit of contemplation and appreciation of the soldiers' noble sacrifice. Later, trainloads of tourists would come, seeking entertainment as much as edification. Today, "heritage tourists," such as Civil War reenactors, come seeking authenticity. "In a book of rare intelligence and eloquence, Weeks sifts through the tangled mass of memorabilia, images, remembrances … and more to show how this 'hallowed ground' was created and exploited for myriad interests," wrote Library Journal contributor Randall Miller.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
History Today, December, 2003, Adam Smith, review of Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine, p. 56.
Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Randall Miller, review of Gettysburg, p. 136.
Civil War News,http://www.civilwarnews.com/ (April 29, 2004), review of Gettysburg.*