Date of this Version
Published in Quarterly Journal of Speech 99:3 (August 2013), pp. 341–363; doi: 10.1080/00335630.2013.806818
In 2010–2011, the Nebraska History Museum featured two temporary exhibits: “We the People: the Nebraskan Viewpoint” and “Willa Cather: A Matter of Appearances.” We argue the public memories of Brandon Teena and Willa Cather contained in the exhibits are distanced from regional politics when articulated alongside the nostalgic regionalist rhetoric of the Nebraska History Museum. Specifically, both exhibits not only discipline the memory of trans* performance within problematic material and symbolic contexts, but also place these memories within a rhetoric of regional optimism that has critical consequences for restricting counter-public formation. In performing this reading, the essay argues that critical regionalism has the potential to offer a nuanced perspective on the geopolitical dimensions of memory places by exploring understandings of the relationship between “local” and “national” commemoration at these sites.