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Born in Brookline, MA and educated at Dartmouth (2yrs), Harvard (2yrs); after a 3-year tour as an infantry officer in the US Marines, back to Harvard for a Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization.
Taught at Oklahoma State University for 37 yrs, attaining the rank of Regents Professor. Toward end of teaching career, courses focused on motion pictures and their impact on society.
Publications can be summarized as "film and history studies," most of which were published by the UP of Kentucky, although the epic was The Columbia Companion to American History in Film.
Hollywood as Historian, Hollywood's West, Hollywood's White House, etc. Full details on publications are at petercrollins.com where there are click points for full details and purchase.
Editor of Film & History for 12 years. Most indebted to John E. O'Connor, my mentor in this effort and co-editor in so many of the book projects.
Filmmaking was an option and I made documentaries about Will Rogers, the Vietnam war, World War II. (See America Reflected for details on these projects.) I was a strong advocate of "the historian as filmmaker" movement in this country, an effort which was overtaken by journalistic efforts on the History Channel and PBS.
America Reflected is my most recent effort and contains materials on Will Rogers, Benjamin Whorf, war on film, and canonical figures such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, John James Audubon, Frederick Henry Hedge, Amy Lowell, and others. America Reflected is my capstone book, an attempt to put the best of my writings on the library shelves.
Here we have a welcome collection of many of the highlights of Peter Rollins' work contributing to the evolution of a critical methodology for analysis of American culture. Rollins builds upon his earliest work in the culture of linguistics, the "cowboy philosophy" of Will Rogers, and the ways in which such notables as Harriet Beecher Stowe and John James Audubon contributed to the American spirit. Several of the most valuable chapters are models for an emerging methodlogy for understanding film and television as resources for history. Before this volume made these pieces so readily available, I have found myself repeatedly referring back to the journals in which his writings on documentary films on New Deal environmental issues and the Vietnam War originally appeared to refresh my sensibility to visual language and the ways in which images worked in the context of culture. I recommend this volume wholeheartedly.
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Peter C. Rollins' new book makes a notable contribution to the study of popular culture. Of particular interest is Part II: America's Wars: Film Images and Historical Realities. Rollins reminds us of the "Perils and Possibilities" (the subtitle of his chapter on the Vietnam War) of using film and other media to study the impact of war on culture: "[This] study of Vietnam--like virtually every other period--is rich with differing perspectives and redolent with many `truths.' The danger lies in accepting the report of any one document of the total picture" (page 383).
Throughout the chapters in this section, which begins with World War I and ends with the Vietnam War, Rollins reminds us that Americans, particularly young ones, are visually oriented. For this reason, the book is a valuable resource for teachers of high school and college students. Rollins unpacks the ways that films create "reality" and then makes comparisons to the historical events that inspired the films. Rollins' move to admit more than one "truth" of any particular war is refreshing.
Anyone interested in the intersection of popular culture and American history will find this an informative, densely-packed, and enlightening read. Highly recommended.
Using a sharp historical lens, Peter Rollins examines American cultural history--focusing on myriad characters: Will Rogers, Benjamin Lee Whorf, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John James Audubon, and four major wars while explaining how language, satire, and motion pictures mirror the American psyche. Weaving in and out of personal reminiscences and historical interpretations, America Reflected offers especially strong insight into the nation's changing mores during a turbulent period that began with the rudimentary Model-A automobile and ended with high-altitude B-52 bombing attacks. Clearly, this innovative book--written by an experienced author, lecturer, critic, and editor--belongs in every library and research institution.