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Evolution of the American performance culture between 1850-1910 was deeply rooted within broad social and cultural changes. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, and Henry James engage the reflective quality of performance culture to interrogate these social and cultural changes and to address their place in an increasingly diverse America. In this paper, I discuss the elements of performance culture, specifically dance scenes, which these authors write to draw the readers' attention to American identity issues. These scenes expose the authors' apprehension and resistance toward changes in the stereotypical American identity. I argue that James is less able to compromise his portrait of the ideal American than Stowe and Twain, which explains his abandonment of the exploration of human consciousness in favor of inanimate objects in his 1907 travel novel, The American Scene.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Includes bibliographical references.
W. T. Lhamon, Jr., Professor Directing Thesis; Dennis Moore, Committee Member; Barry Faulk, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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