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George Washington Slept Here

Colonial Revivals and American Culture, 1876–1986

Author Information

MarlingKaral Ann:

Karal Ann Marling is Professor of Art History at the University of Minnesota.


Combining historical analysis with art history and cultural criticism, Marling has provided a lively new view of a hero turned into an icon.

This book, written by an astute professor of American studies and art history at the University of Minnesota, is intriguing because it also concerns the role of that on-again, off-again colonial revival in popular culture from 1876 until the present. Karal Ann Marling's discussion demonstrates her skill at interweaving words and images, books and the bizarre detritus from our commercialization of the past that stand (or perhaps languish) in need of explication...Ms. Marling has salvaged quantities of consequential colonial ephemera. These are the accretions which simultaneously embellish yet enshroud our national myths; and she has sandblasted those hollow shrines while preserving all the rubble and dust for our delectation. The result is a lively exposé whose persuasiveness owes much to the banality, snobbery and ubiquity of the treasures turned up by Ms. Marling...Our overall perception of the complex functions filled by American history in popular culture is exuberantly enhanced in George Washington Slept Here.

Karal Ann Marling [has] pulled together a rollicking read. George Washington Slept Here is not a book about beds, historic sites or locales that lay claim to recognition because of our grand father's peregrinations--nothing so straightforward or stodgy. It is instead an erudite delving into the significance of all kinds of trivia created, manufactured, produced--even sung--about America's first president...Marling holds all the cards--she knows her historical context, she has the images and messages at her fingertips, and she has an almost unerring sense of the ridiculous, providing a very witty interpretation of a nostalgia that pervades American life.

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Edition: Reprint 2014
Audience: Professional and scholarly;