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Title:Bumpkin rising: the development of American identity through the country bumpkin character in American manners plays
Author(s):Bunch, Caroline M
Director of Research:Davis, Peter A
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Davis, Peter A
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Robinson, Valleri; Syer, Katherine; Bishop, Mardia
Department / Program:Theatre
Discipline:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):country bumpkin
American identity
American theatre
national identity
American plays
manners
Abstract:In this dissertation, the country bumpkin character type is analyzed as a reflection of American identity. In the English tradition, the country bumpkin is often the object of ridicule because of his ignorance and buffoonish mistakes, but in America this type morphs into a freedom loving character imbued with common sense, a strong will, and a distrust of class structures. In this study, the country bumpkin type is used to look at the formation of a national identity and how the constructed nature of that identity privileges some aspects of society while ignoring or degrading others. The focus of this work is the bumpkin’s development in American theatre from its arrival in colonial America until the verge of World War Two. Each chapter examines the historical and cultural context of the time, applies that to a significant manners play of the period, and discusses American identity through the lens of the country bumpkin. The periods within the dissertation are framed by war, notably the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War One. The earlier chapters focus on England’s strong influence on the emerging nation and America’s struggle to form an independent identity. The middle section concentrates on America’s internal battles and the final chapter deals with the United States on its rise to world power. The embracing of this character is still popular today in all aspects of American culture and in addition to entertainment can be seen in our political candidates.
Issue Date:2017-04-18
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/97560
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Caroline Bunch
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05


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