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An American spectacle: college mascots and the performance of tradition

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Title: An American spectacle: college mascots and the performance of tradition
Author(s): Guiliano, Jennifer E.
Director of Research: Burgos, Adrian
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Burgos, Adrian
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Roediger, David R.; Hoxie, Frederick E.; Giardina, Michael
Department / Program: History
Discipline: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Mascots U.S. History Native Americans American Indians Sports College Athletics University of Illinois University of North Dakota Stanford University Miami University University of Florida Florida State University
Abstract: “An American Spectacle: College Mascots and the Performance of Tradition” seeks to understand how college football and its attendant events (termed here “An American Spectacle”) became a vehicle for cultural production by individuals and institutions in specifically raced, gendered, and classed ways. It asks what was the role of this “American Spectacle” in the articulation of individual and group identities at sites across the United States and outlines the individual aspects of the spectacle: bands and musical performances, newspaper writers and narratives of athletics, artistic production and commercial athletic identity, student publications and University identity, and the rituals of performance. In each instance the fundamental exploration is guided by consideration of how individuals and institutions constituted, transformed, and transmitted ideas of Indian mascotry within the spectacle of college football. This dissertation then asks these central questions: How and why were Native Americans represented as sports mascots? What cultural work did these images perform? How did these written narratives, visual images, and live performances create a tradition of performance that branded college football as “an American spectacle?” In answering these questions, “An American Spectacle” vividly illustrates a uniquely American story of race, class, identity, and community that argues for the framing of a complex set of institutions that are uniquely shaped by industrialism, commercialism, capital acquisition and expression, mass democracy, and the nation-state. An innately political practice that, while recognizing multiple identities, privileged young, male, white, middle-class, and athletic as powerful and transmitted those ideas via various networks, this dissertation ultimately reveals a uniquely American spectacle.
Issue Date: 2010-05-19
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Jennifer Elizabeth Guiliano
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-05-19
Date Deposited: May 2010

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