In a March 2007 National Geographic article titled, "Beyond Disney," writer T.D. Allman wrote, "Everything happening to America today is happening here ... "1 The article went on to suggest that Orlando had become a prime example of the "ascendant power of cities' exurbs... " While this assessment was focused on the iconic Central Florida community, the implication that Florida's experience foreshadows the country's future highlights a crucial role the state plays in the broader U.S. experience, a role that this special issue of the Florida Historical Quarterly aims to render. Indeed, as Anne Rowe writes in The Ideal of Florida in the American Literary Imagination, "In spite of the state's assimilation into the mainstream of American life, the idea of Florida-the subtropical land, idyllic, exotic paradise-continues to be a powerful seductive force."2 In recent memory, however, the seductive Florida has been inexorably linked to nightmarish prophecy as concerns about urbanization, immigration, and environmental despoliation have exerted considerable force upon the collective mediation about Florida.3 Moreover, from presidential politics to the housing crisis, contemporary observers across the country and around the world hope to glean some greater understanding of the broader national story from Florida's experience.4 Florida has been and continues to be marked by the interplay between imagined expectation and real experience. This special issue confronts the bifurcated profile Florida occupies in the popular mind with essays that explore some of the distinctive issues that shape popular understandings of Florida as both a geographic place and a symbolic space. While the recent academic works, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams and Paradise Lost? address Florida's social and environmental histories, and as substantial analyses such as The New History of Florida and Florida's Working Class Past explore the intersection of the state's political and economic concerns, this special issue seeks to re-evaluate Florida's impact on the broader cultural dialogue about the postwar transformation of the United States with essays that analyze the dynamic between popular cultural outputs and lived reality, thereby illuminating how practices of documenting Florida help shape understandings of time and historical change.5
Chambliss, Julian C.
"Florida: The Mediated State,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 90:
3, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol90/iss3/3