The Pop-History Spectacle: Curating Public Memory and Historical Consciousness through the Visual

Pamela Rogers, Nichole Grant


Hosted in the nation’s capital, the multisensory/digital historical performances displayed on Centre Block at Parliament Hill have had over one million viewers, making the shows a popular summer attraction. Upon closer inspection, however, the historical narratives in both Mosaika and Northern Lights focus on limited, exclusionary, and mythological representations of Canada’s beginnings, but perhaps more importantly, the artistic and technological element, “the spectacle,” creates something new altogether—which we are calling pop-history. Pop-history, a cultural understanding of popular history, is the emphasis of the theatrical over the historical, making history a performance to be consumed, but not critically thought through, or engaged with. Through this, we argue that although technologically striking, the narrowly imagined pop-history spectacle contributes to the shaping of a limited Canadian historical consciousness based on a normalized version of the past.

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Canadian Journal of Education | Revue canadienne de l'éducationISSN 1918-5979