Remaking Reality

U.S. Documentary Culture after 1945

Edited by Sara Blair, Joseph B. Entin, Franny Nudelman

264 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 31 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3869-0
    Published: April 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3870-6
    Published: March 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4990-8
    Published: March 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3868-3
    Published: April 2018

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After World War II, U.S. documentarians engaged in a rigorous rethinking of established documentary practices and histories. Responding to the tumultuous transformations of the postwar era--the atomic age, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the emergence of the environmental movement, immigration and refugee crises, student activism, the globalization of labor, and the financial collapse of 2008--documentary makers increasingly reconceived reality as the site of social conflict and saw their work as instrumental to struggles for justice. Examining a wide range of forms and media, including sound recording, narrative journalism, drawing, photography, film, and video, this book is a daring interdisciplinary study of documentary culture and practice from 1945 to the present. Essays by leading scholars across disciplines collectively explore the activist impulse of documentarians who not only record reality but also challenge their audiences to take part in reality's remaking.

In addition to the editors, the volume's contributors include Michael Mark Cohen, Grace Elizabeth Hale, Matthew Frye Jacobson, Jonathan Kahana, Leigh Raiford, Rebecca M. Schreiber, Noah Tsika, Laura Wexler, and Daniel Worden.

About the Authors

Sara Blair is the Patricia S. Yaeger Collegiate Professor of English at the University of Michigan.
For more information about Sara Blair, visit the Author Page.

Joseph B. Entin is associate professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.
For more information about Joseph B. Entin, visit the Author Page.

Franny Nudelman is associate professor of English at Carleton University in Canada.
For more information about Franny Nudelman, visit the Author Page.


Remaking Reality’s achievement is its spirited effort to understand the practices of documentary, in all of their creative rhythms and strategic discord. The editors succeed in documenting what Wexler describes as ‘unique, individual, personal lives that could be rendered only in particularity.’--The Journal of Southern History

“[Remaking Reality] leaves both uninitiated readers and documentary experts with a plethora of new ideas and questions in regard to how documentary making has changed over time, how new and inherited methods of documentary have influenced the activist culture of today, and how tradition and new technologies will change the nature of documentary culture in the United States as the twenty-first century progresses.”--H-Net Reviews

Remaking Reality resonates with both past and present realities, while it also points toward the imminent future. . . . It provides readers with historical depth and perspective, while also turning our attention toward the recent technological developments enabling new forms of media activism within and across diverse communities.”--American Literary History

"This up-to-the-minute book traces a postwar history of "the documentary idea" as it has evolved to fit our changing social and political circumstances and occasioned new aesthetic and activist demands/uses."--Martha Rosler, photographer and writer

"A valuable addition to the literature on documentary culture--well-written, cogent, and fully focused on the contemporary context."--Michael Renov, University of Southern California

"A critical resource for readers from a wide range of disciplines."--Erina Duganne, Texas State University