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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Manifesting Destiny: Performance and the Myth of America

  • Author(s): Miller, Alexander Williams
  • Advisor(s): Chemers, Michael M
  • et al.

Cultures are defined by their boundaries. American culture often calls this boundary "the frontier," and has built a strong mythic interpretation of this frontier. People living on this frontier behave in ways that may not be considered "civilized." Borrowing from Roach's work in performance theory, this paper analyzes three performative products to show how this American frontier has changed. J.N. Barker's The Indian Princess performs the frontier through the legends of John Smith, Pocahontas, and colonial Jamestown. Mark Twain's Is He Dead? is a play that echoes frontier dramas of 1880s America. The video game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag offers a historiographic view of the frontier while pushing it into cyberspace.

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