Truth, Justice and the American Way: Structure, Narrative and Nation in Tourist Performances in Salem, MA

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Date
2010-06-16
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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
Abstract
Looking at six performances (including tourist `museums' and walking tours) for the October influx of tourists to Salem, Massachusetts, this work outlines the way each performance encodes within a structural perspective on the nature of the Salem Witch Hysteria through the selective inclusion, exclusion and parallelizing of various events and characters. These perspectives are analyzed for their broader insight into narratives of national character, examining the way in which national character can be examined not as an objective force influencing production of narratives but as a form of discursive repetition, creating national character through repeated acts of unifying narrative. Also explored are the genealogical roots of these narratives, both in popular media about the witch trials and in historical explorations of the period. The fundamental argument at the heart of the work is that historical narratives are produced by creating a meta-narrative that produces a spectral American character, existing in the minds of the observers but not in any objective way.
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Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2009
Keywords
history, identity, nation, performance, tourism, witchcraft
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Doctoral Dissertation