Branding Texas

[ Regional/Texas ]

Branding Texas

Performing Culture in the Lone Star State

By Leigh Clemons

An intriguing study of how plays, films, television shows, museums, historical sites, and battle reenactments—that is, performances—have created "Texan” identity.

2008

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 202 pp. | 19 halftones

ISBN: 978-0-292-73937-6

Ask anyone to name an archetypal Texan, and you're likely to get a larger-than-life character from film or television (say John Wayne's Davy Crockett or J. R. Ewing of TV's Dallas) or a politician with that certain swagger (think LBJ or George W. Bush). That all of these figures are white and male and bursting with self-confidence is no accident, asserts Leigh Clemons. In this thoughtful study of what makes a "Texan," she reveals how Texan identity grew out of the history—and, even more, the myth—of the heroic deeds performed by Anglo men during the Texas Revolution and the years of the Republic and how this identity is constructed and maintained by theatre and other representational practices.

Clemons looks at a wide range of venues in which "Texanness" is performed, including historic sites such as the Alamo, the battlefield at Goliad, and the San Jacinto Monument; museums such as the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum; seasonal outdoor dramas such as Texas! at Palo Duro Canyon; films such as John Wayne's The Alamo and the IMAX's Alamo: The Price of Freedom; plays and TV shows such as the Tuna trilogy, Dallas, and King of the Hill; and the Cavalcade of Texas performance at the 1936 Texas Centennial. She persuasively demonstrates that these performances have created a Texan identity that has become a brand, a commodity that can be sold to the public and even manipulated for political purposes.

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction: Texas and the Performance of Regionality
  • 2. "Deep in the Heart": The Architectural Landscapes of Texan Cultural Memory
  • 3. Teaching "Texan": The Pedagogical Function of the Texas Revolution
  • 4. "What's the Matter with You People?": The Performance of Authentic Behavior in Small-Town Texan Plays
  • 5. Selling Texas: The Political Branding of Texan Cultural Identity
  • 6. Conclusion: "Our Flag Still Waves Proudly from the Walls"
  • Notes
  • Index

I was raised in the West. The West of Texas. It's pretty close to California. In more ways than Washington, D.C., is close to California.

George W. Bush

What exactly is this "Texas" of which George W. Bush speaks in the epigraph? Is it a place? A culture? Does Texas actually exist anymore, or has it been obscured under layers of myth and iconography until whatever was real about it is no longer visible?

Texan cultural identity is a complex set of performances that creates and maintains the idea of the state as a distinct entity and as a site of identity for its inhabitants. These performances include cultural behaviors, historical events, and architectural spaces and objects. They occur in historic sites, pageants, festivals, and other forms of performance integral to creating and maintaining the "Lone Star" brand, or consumable, commodified image, of Texan cultural identity. This brand is then consumed by a willing public through visits to historic sites such as the Alamo, the viewing of films and television shows featuring Texan characters, or attendance at plays and other live performances which bill themselves as representing Texans or Texan-ness. The contestation of exactly what constitutes Texas and the nature of these Texans provides a site in which to analyze or interrogate the construction and performance of a unique regional identity.

The performance of regionality is not unique to Texas; one can find similar processes in play in various areas of the United States: Manhattan, Minnesota, California, Louisiana, Maine, to name but a few. Texas, however, deserves study because of its paradigmatic construction of a regional identity, and the importance of this identity to American identity.

The New/Old Republic

On April 27, 1997, Richard McLaren, the ambassador of the Republic of Texas separatist/militia movement, and several other members of the group barricaded themselves in the Republic's headquarters in the West Texas town of Fort Davis. They took two hostages after breaking into a nearby home and wounding one resident. Although the hostages were soon released, the standoff lasted until May 4, when McLaren and three others surrendered to authorities.

The Republic of Texas movement, which is still in existence, professes that Texas was illegally annexed by the United States in 1845 and, therefore, is still an independent country. To much of the American media, the Republic of Texas movement was no different from any other militia-type separatist group operating within the United States. In fact, it was even less well known; a U.S. News and World Report article on the rise in militias dated exactly one week prior to the start of the siege does not mention the group. To many of its members, however, the group's identification with the state's heritage as a formerly sovereign nation—a status among the states shared only by the Kingdom of Hawai'i—provided a unique angle to the standard rhetoric of many militia groups in the United States and their issues with federal bureaucracy, eminent domain, and other issues. Texas, however, had a legal claim (though dubious) that other states did not: having entered the United States under treaty, it retained rights that other territories ceded to the federal government upon annexation, such as control of its public lands. The Republic of Texas movement seized on this provision and twisted it into a tool for antifederalist rhetoric grounded in supposedly Texan notions of freedom, independence, and the struggle against a tyrannical government.

Yet the Republic of Texas movement did not invent these associations; they are part of a larger field of relationships which circumscribe Texas as a historical space once separate from the United States—as a former nation with its own unique identity. In this sense, the Republic of Texas represents an extreme performance of what I call "Texan cultural identity," and national identity in general, since the Texas Revolution. The history of the Texan cultural identity must be viewed not as a story but as a structure, one that seeks to keep its foundations firm and level even as dislocating forces swarm around it. For as Francis Barker states, it is that careful balance which is the key to achieving changes in the way history is constructed, both then and now:

And notwithstanding those who confuse memory with nostalgia—they are committed to the charm of the bad new days—it will have to be a historical practice, deploying—in practice—the sense which is not anecdotal but structural to both history and the possibility of thought, the sense that things have not always been like this nor need remain so. Where "this" and "so" are not as much particles of grammar as the diacritical sites of historical signs. The sense, in other words, that if historicity is lost, so too is the capacity to formulate (not just to desire and embrace, but also to know and shape) change.

The process of maintaining a cultural identity, while most often associated with reductive conflicts over perceived geographic boundaries that separate territory claimed by one group from that of another, is a complex set of performances that creates and maintains the idea of the nation-state. These practices, drawing on myths, beliefs, behaviors, geographies, and ideologies, form a field of relations that defines the boundaries of history and performance for Texan cultural identity. Examining Texan identity reveals how regional identities in general are created through performance.

Often, these performances appear to produce representations of specific local practices within larger global practices. For example, the story of the Alamo, site of the most famous battle of the Texas Revolution, was used by John Wayne in his 1963 film The Alamo to personify the "American" heroic spirit. This spirit is posited in the geographic space of Texas, imbuing that space with performative power. This invocation of the Texan as one of the strongest, most extreme instances of a greater American identity gives insight into the role of geographic location in the construction of identity.

This concept of national identity formation rests not in the ability to document an actual, lived Texan past, but in the way that events are reconfigured into pedagogical historical narratives that grant primacy to the authors of the history. National narratives may work within the spheres, rhetoric, or other strategies of nationalism, but their continuous movement and redefinition are based on shifts in the opposing side's perspective; this is, in the words of Homi K. Bhabha, the "Janus-faced discourse" of national narration.

While, as this book will demonstrate, Texan cultural identity has many faces, not just two, it is in the interplay between the major forces that we see the struggle for control of the creation, preservation, and promulgation of the identity. These moments of contestation over exactly what constitutes "Texas" provide an illuminating site in which to explore the use(s) of performance for identity construction.

The process of regional and national narration includes not only the performance practices of cultural behaviors and historical events but also architectural spaces and objects. While it may seem odd, initially, to think of space as having the ability to contain and perform identity, the construction of historical and cultural spaces as unique performative sites comes from shifts in the fields of ethnography and cultural geography. What Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett calls "ethnographic artifacts" or "objects of ethnography" are key to the study of performance culture. These artifacts "become valuable . . . not because they were found . . . but by virtue of the manner in which they have been detached" from previous contexts and given new ones. She asserts that, through these practices, "disciplines make their objects and in the process make themselves."

Material objects examined in this book include historic sites and historical pageants, festivals, and other forms of performance practices in which the performance site itself is integral to the experience and understanding of the material. In the case of Texan performance, these practices revolve mainly around historical events and architectural monuments. These sites of engagement give the performances a permanent archival function that modern-day Texans can reference through visitation, pictorial representation, or verbal evocation. The struggle among the various performances—political, aesthetic, or cultural—illustrates the importance to the various ethno-political groups within the state of having a claim to Texan cultural identity. LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens) and prominent Hispanic residents of San Antonio often protest the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) and their single-handed control of the Alamo shrine and, by extension, the story told by the space. At other times, the Texas government has attempted to intervene in the DRT's ownership of the Alamo site by attempting to return it to a more "authentic" framework. As a result of each of these confrontations, Texas' national narrative shifts, travels, and, from time to time, even ruptures, creating ever more fragmented representations.

Factors besides history and memorialization play a key role in the creation of Texan cultural identity. Diana Taylor asks, "How does expressive behavior (performance) transmit identity, memory, and culture?" While some of these practices can be traced, like the Republic of Texas movement, to specific pieces of Texas history (however interpreted), many are more elusive. Shifting interplays of perception between the performer/resident and the audience/tourist within a Texan cultural field create a conflicting set of Texan features. The continually shifting relationships between "staged" and "real" identity create a simulated Texan cultural identity interwoven with aspects of Texas history, behavior, and other cultural forms. Out of actual events and re-created objects, the Texan has now emerged as a brand, a commodity, which can be constructed, maintained, and sold to the public.

Marketing the Texan as a brand grew out of both the desire to remember important historical events and the maintenance of architectural repositories of cultural memory like battle sites and museums. The pedagogical practices of Texas' national narrative strive to establish the "Lone Star" as the primary image of Texan cultural identity. This façade allows Texans of a certain historical background (direct descendants of original settlers or revolutionary soldiers), ethnic heritage (primarily Anglo), or gender (primarily male) to engage with and profit from the pedagogical national narrative of the Texan and Texas' cultural heritage while consigning those outside of this narrative, for whatever reason, to outsider or "tourist" status. Ironically, as the percentage of such individuals grow smaller in relationship to the state's population, they nonetheless solidified and maintained the fiction of the Texan as unilaterally white and male. For a Lone Star who exists within the complex forces of national narration, being able to connect with the heritage is everything; it provides historical grounding, legitimates cultural behaviors, and provides a geographic frame of reference. Some Texans connect through geographic location; others connect with historical events; still others identify with certain behaviors or attitudes associated with Texan characters in popular media, like John Wayne's or Fess Parker's Davy Crockett at their respective Alamos.

Finally, there are those Texans whose idea of cultural identity stems from the marketing of the Texan as a distinct brand for consumption: the Lone Star. Yet the primacy of the Lone Star brand is constantly in flux, as those voices typically obscured or downplayed by the façade—Hispanics, African Americans, and women, to name a few—strive to ensure that their own representations are included.

Because this book analyzes the dominant branding of Texan identity, my focus is the historical emphasis on white, male Texans and the importance of whiteness in the construction of Texan cultural identity. The activities and resistant performances of those outside this construction (nonwhites, nonmales) will be dealt with in Chapter 5. Texas provides one of the more obvious and complex manifestations of the "performance of regionality"—representations produced by a complex field of identity discourse—national, racial/ethnic, gender, and historical—which varies from location to location within the American cultural landscape.

Texan Cultural Identity

The relationship between performance and everyday life in America is central to the formation of Texan identity. Early discussions about the performance of everyday life, such as those of J. L. Austin and Erving Goffman, posited that the daily representation of self was inherently performative and followed a one-to-one equation, in which to state that one was doing something was, in fact, to do it, and in which to be perceived as behaving as a certain type of character in public was, in fact, to be that type. Later, ethnographers like Victor Turner and Dwight Conquergood made visible a shift in research focus from looking at the "world as text" to looking at it "as performance," in which ethnographers could begin "thinking about fieldwork as the collaborative performance of an enabling fiction between observer and observed, knower and known." Michel de Certeau reified this notion of performance with his concept of "the practice of everyday life," in which individuals created and moved through a field of practices, using tactics and strategies to construct distinct performance identities. At the same time, theatre scholars like Marvin Carlson warned of the inherent preconceptions of casting all societal interactions as "performances," even though the use of performance-oriented language in these situations invited such comparisons.

The diverse performances analyzed in this book all share formal characteristics: they are representations of an(other) designed to elicit certain responses from the viewer. A museum curator may mediate his or her performance through the use of cultural artifacts, but he or she is still constructing a performative space for museum audiences to consume. Battle reenactments, though largely unscripted, draw heavily on performances by the participants to lend to the authenticity of the event.

The complex interplay of attitudes and behaviors present in both theatrical and everyday performances creates a performative cultural identity in all of the senses mentioned above. As Judith Butler says, "the performative 'works' to the extent that it draws on and covers over constitutive conventions by which it is mobilized." Analyzing specific examples of such performances allows us to see how their formation, maintenance, and formation work in creating Texan cultural identity.

The idea of identity representation as a tangible performance practice, however, has relevance for the understanding of Texan cultural identity precisely because there is no agreement on the parameters which frame this relationship. At first glance, it would seem that the geographic borders of the state determine the boundaries of the performance of Texan cultural identity. Yet those borders have shifted in the over 150 years since the Texas Revolution, changing the actual boundary lines between Texas and other states. In addition, much of Texan cultural identity is grounded in the events of the Texas Revolution, which took place in a very specific part of the state, roughly along what is now Interstate 10 from San Antonio to Houston and south to the Rio Grande. Other parts of the state have their own distinct names—West Texas, the (Rio Grande) Valley, the Panhandle—which points to a plethora of identities within the state's geography. Within Texan cultural identity, then, there are competing spaces and groups which vie for a dominant place in that identity.

Once so characterized through formal and "everyday" performances and behaviors, Texans can be created through historical plays. These representations are then exported to the rest of the world, creating a Texan character recognizable outside of the United States as well as inside it. In his 1897 novel Dracula, for example, Bram Stoker chose a "Texan" to round out his band of heroic vampire hunters: Quincy Morris, a romantic savage. Much like Cumberland's West Indian (in the play of the same name) of 150 years before, Stoker's character carries a Bowie knife and a Winchester rifle, uses language rich with western American dialect and colorful analogies. If one can take Stoker's use of the character as evidence of a broader representation of social strata, the Texan identity performed by Morris serves a valuable, if somewhat sacrificial, function in the larger context of the novel by serving as a counterpoint to the stereotypical British characters of the landed aristocrat (Arthur Holmwood), the physician (John Seward), and the middle-class London solicitor (Jonathan Harker). Yet, in this sacrifice, Morris embodies the same Texan behaviors found later in representations of Crockett by John Wayne and Fess Parker, not to mention representations of the other men who died at the Alamo. Finding a literary representation of Texan identity several decades before the appearance of the Alamo as a central icon in Texas history in the late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century suggests that a Texan cultural identity was already coming together in the years following the Texas Revolution and the entrance of the state into the union.

The area of "cultural geography" (also a recent addition to the field of historiographic research) interweaves the study of cultural landscapes with their configurations as sites of commemoration and (often) tragedy. Battle sites like the Alamo are of particular interest to cultural geographers because their visitors "seek environmental intimacy in order to experience patriotic inspiration." This reinforces the pedagogical function of such sites as agents of national narration, as the thousands of Texas schoolchildren—black, white, and Hispanic—who visit the Alamo and San Jacinto battle sites every year can attest. According to Kenneth E. Foote, the presence, or absence, of such sites "play[s] an active role in their own interpretation . . . the evidence of violence left behind often pressures people, almost involuntarily, to begin debate over meaning."

Yet, because of their history, the study of these site-specific memorials as ethnographic objects revolves mostly around the story, rather than around the space of the performance. Like Civil War sites throughout the South, all of the major battle sites of the Texas Revolution—Gonzales, the Alamo, Goliad/Coleto, and San Jacinto—have either preserved architectural landmarks from the period or erected memorials and monuments at those locations that serve to mark and perform the site as a repository of history and Texan cultural memory. Many of these sites also sponsor annual commemorations that include some form of reenactment of the historical events which took place there, further marking the space with ethnographic (and performative) significance.

Yet these sites also mask profound absences: the bodies of those who died on both sides, military and civilian, men and women, Texian, Tejano, and Mexican. The absence of actual remains can foster a sense of immateriality within the discursive performance practices of the battle site, creating a hyperreal, a field of simulations that masks the absence of the "real" and can, over time, become more real than the real ever was. While Baudrillard focuses on ahistorical Las Vegas, his description of America as a place of hyperreality also helps us understand Texan cultural identity, which insists on following the mantra of "bigger, badder, better."

The presentation of violence as romanticized spectacle is particularly relevant to Texan performance because of its grounding in revolution and battle. Battle reenactments are a popular form of entertainment at the town of Gonzales' annual "Come and Take It" celebration, commemorating the first shots fired in the Texas Revolution. Not all of the reenactments, however, center around the original historical event; some re-present already sanctioned representations of the event. Happy Shahan's Alamo Village was originally constructed as the set for John Wayne's The Alamo and then was used as a tourist attraction commemorating the making of the film, complete with museum and tours of the site (which still functions as a working movie set). Alamo Village also has attracted scores of reenactors, who represent scenes from Texas history books as well as from Wayne's film. As with Civil War battle reenactments, these performances strive for historical accuracy and claim to be "authentic" ethnographic representations, complete with time period-correct costuming, weaponry, and properties.

Not only historical events but also contemporary culture help keep the idea of the Texan alive and in performance through incredibly diverse, somewhat contradictory, contested representations. Anecdotes that illustrate Texan performance also abound in literature and film throughout the twentieth century. From J. R. Ewing of Dallas to Hank Hill of King of the Hill, Texans have been performing for audiences throughout America and around the world since the 1936 Centennial Exposition, when Texas began marketing itself as a place not only for cowboys and oil fields but also as a haven of culture, prosperity, and social progress suitable for national recognition. The current political climate and its attachment to Texan cultural identity emerged through the carefully constructed performances of Pres. George W. Bush as the Texan president. Similar tactics are in play when he presents himself as a self-styled Texan in his dealings with both the American and foreign governments by holding important meetings at his ranch in Crawford and when he doles out "honorary Texan" status to selected foreign dignitaries.

Texan cultural identity also exists on what Joseph Roach terms a "selvage," a border or frontier that works to segregate groups from one another while simultaneously forcing them together, creating paradoxical states of representation best indicated in public performance venues. Members of various racial, ethnic, and gender groups vie for primacy in the national narrative of Texas as a republic-state. Hispanics struggle to have the history of Tejanos and their descendants included in the revolutionary narrative. Women insist on representation for their roles in the Revolution and for their efforts to preserve "Texas history" sites such as the Alamo. Blacks and American Indians, long excluded but with many historical ties to the state, struggle even to be acknowledged as part of the historical narrative other than as footnotes.

In opposition to such practices, Texan historical performance is engaged in the replication of historical "Texian" identities such as Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, William Barret Travis, and, of course, Davy Crockett. The fact that none of these men were born in Texas bears no relationship to their ability to convey the innate qualities of the Texan, just as McLaren, a native of Ohio, was able to assume the performance mantle of the Republic of Texas' ambassador.

While some nonnative Texans (as most of the revolutionary-era population was) could directly claim a Texan identity, others had to rely on representations of their Texan cultural identity in history, song, and story. Most of the nineteenth-century Texan population was functionally illiterate; the two survivor narratives from the Alamo—those of Moses Rose and Susanna Dickinson—were dictated to literate persons decades after the event. Legend has it that Emily Morgan (or, sometimes, West), a young woman who might have been anyone from a mulatto slave to the housekeeper for one of the Texian officers, "distracted" Santa Anna in his tent and allowed Sam Houston's Texian army to sneak up on the Mexican camp at San Jacinto. Such "outsider" identities still had to be actively performed to reinforce the solidity of Texan historical discourse.

Texan cultural identity supports this "whitewashed" discourse, which places people of color at the margins. Characters represented as Texans are, on the whole, reflections of the traditionally dominant political and economic powers within the state. Architecturally, sites of Texan historical memory have been shrines to the deeds and exploits of Texians: the Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto. History museums, designed to focus on or showcase famous people or important events, contain more content relevant to Anglo history than to Hispanic, unless specifically designed with that focus. Historically, Texian heroes have been more visible in films and historical pageants than have Tejanos like Juan Seguín and Gregorio Esparza; Santa Anna, the antagonist, has been the most visible Hispanic face, and representations of him on stage and screen range from the ludicrous to the barbaric. Attempts to re-present revolutionary narratives from the Tejano perspective have been criticized as inferior, inaccurate productions or farcical comedies.

Finally, while J. R. Ewing and Hank Hill may be characters familiar to many television viewers, there have been no similar Hispanic figures in the national media to give descendants of the Tejano population and others of Mexican heritage living in Texas a visible media image. Their treatment in more recent live performances has not been much better than in the historical dramas previously mentioned.

The issues surrounding the gaps in Texan cultural identity further foreground the unilateral nature of its composition, despite the multiplicity of potential representations at its disposal. Some Texans hold onto traditions that have been removed from the historical narrative for being inauthentic, or at least highly contested, as in the case of David Crockett's death at the Alamo, rather than open the process to new interpretations.

There is racism inherent in defining the dominant Texan cultural identity as white, male, and (somewhat) wealthy. This character is perhaps best exemplified in the most famous Texan of the moment, Pres. George W. Bush. This book focuses on the exclusionary practices by which Texan cultural identity is created and claimed by various sections of Texan culture, including mostly white groups like the Republic of Texas. The Alamo provides yet another site for locating this identity by highlighting the "heroism" of the Texians over the "savagery" of the Mexicans. Battle reenactments play up the suffering of the white male victim or the triumph of the white male hero. Small-town Texas plays take white men as the their primary focus; female and nonwhite characters either exist mostly to support and nurture the central characters or to provide comic relief. Each of these types of sites shows how dominant identity remains fixed and intersects with attempts to refocus the discourse on previously excluded groups.

Francis Barker writes that the historicizing of history turns it into a tool of the ruling classes unless it is undermined from below by revolutionary voices. There are questions involved in the debate over who controls the history and, by extension, the maintenance of Texan cultural identity; these questions create a crisis of representation as problematic images of Bush-like Texans are contested by narratives of oppression and disenfranchisement of the Hispanic population. In Texan cultural identity, the conflicting representations pose a crisis for the dominant control of history—a state of cultural emergency that calls for extreme measures to secure the safety of the Texan image.

The Performance of Regionality

Texan cultural identity, with all its shifts, transformations, and paradoxes, is but one example of the power of regional performance in this country. Preston Jones' Texas Trilogy, the first trilogy ever to premiere on Broadway and a huge favorite at the Kennedy Center's Bicentennial Humanities Program in 1976, was panned by the most prominent newspaper critics of the time. New York critics Clive Barnes, Rex Reed, and William Glover gave the trilogy lukewarm reviews because of the "regional" nature of its subject matter and characters. In the intervening thirty years, however, "regionality" has gone from being a condescending dismissal of (usually) noncosmopolitan mind-sets and attitudes to a legitimate, even trendy, form of expression. Texas has benefitted from this shift in regional status, as famous musicians and recording artists flock to the Austin music scene and Hollywood actors relocate to the Hill Country and promote their movies at the annual South by Southwest Film Festival, the heir to Sundance.

Even though recent biographies of Texian heroes like Sam Houston teem with discussions of their dark side and dubious choices, even though political and cultural leaders have publicly stated that the traditional representations of Texas history do mostly exclude Hispanics, African Americans, and women, this does not mean that the representations supported by these pedagogical national narratives have been transformed in any way. Instead, these same limited, regressive notions of Texan performance influence representations of and attitudes toward residents in more subtle and, ultimately, less identifiable ways.

The performance of the Texan is a powerful example of how regionality melds discourses of history, race, gender, and culture into a powerful matrix of national narration designed to legitimate existence. Its performances, theatrical and otherwise, resonate not only on the local level of the state itself but also in the national and international arena. Giving the space of Texas its own unique identity helps to mark that space as "known." The study of what makes a Texan provides insight into how people perform their regionality as well as how that concept of regionality performs them.

America's performances of regionality provide a way to group representations—theatrical, historical, or cultural—in ways which cast new light on the relationship between more traditional boundaries of theatre study. Race, ethnicity, gender, and class are still major issues, but they are seen through new lenses of a broad, cultural nature. Connections between Texas historical pageantry from 1935 and the plays of Preston Jones or Horton Foote are more easily presented when interwoven with the power of historical markers that shape the Texas landscape and film versions of the Alamo story.

The performance of regionality as represented in Texan cultural identity provides a valuable new insight into the ways in which American culture creates and maintains specific regional identities as a part of its national narrative practice. Analyzing Texan identity as a performance of regionality provides a site to explore the ways that physical spaces can function as an actor. From Susanna Dickinson to Peggy Hill to Miss Mona of the infamous Chicken Ranch, "the best little whorehouse in Texas," female representations reveal how gender shapes Texan cultural identity. Finally, the worldwide political use of Texas that appears in Pres. George W. Bush's performances shows the Texan identity's application to politics.

Overview of the Chapters

Chapter 2 examines the role of physical spaces, including the Alamo, the battlefield at Goliad, the San Jacinto Monument, historical markers, museums like the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, and seasonal outdoor dramas such as Texas! at Palo Duro Canyon, in creating and maintaining the performance of the Texan. These memorial sites both encapsulate specific, sometimes contested, versions of the events that mark them and draw tourists to and perform for them various versions of Texas history.

The third chapter examines how the events of the Texas Revolution have been constructed and performed in film, on stage, and in physical spaces to tell particular stories of the Texan and his or her behavior. Particular emphasis is given to performances designated as "pedagogical," or designed to be performed for or by school-aged children because of a specific goal of educating young Texans in the proper interpretation of historical events. Films such as John Wayne's The Alamo, the IMAX film Alamo: The Price of Freedom, the Republic of Texas Museum, school pageants from the time of the 1936 Texas Centennial, historical outdoor dramas and other plays, as well as battle reenactments and yearly celebrations (like "Come and Take It" Days in Gonzales) are examined for their role in (re)writing Texas history for the benefit of the state's residents, children, and those unfamiliar with the story and its racial and ethnic parameters. Links to contemporary attempts to revise the biases within traditional representations by previously marginalized groups will also be discussed.

Chapter 4 looks at the representation of those behaviors and attitudes associated with Texan performance. Many of these examples are associated with the performance of an image of a geographic location, such as Preston Jones' Texas Trilogy, the Greater Tuna trilogy, television shows like Dallas and King of the Hill, and the "True Women" phenomenon. Emphasis will be on images of gender within regional performances.

Chapter 5 discusses how Texas markets its identity to the rest of the United States and the world, beginning with the 1936 Centennial and its central live-performance venue, the Cavalcade of Texas, as part of a concentrated drive to counteract Texas' identity as oil, rattlesnakes, and tumbleweeds so that investors would pump money into the state's Depression-era economy. The chapter reveals the hijacking of Texan cultural identity for a specific political purpose and the more insidious, subtle use of the Texan to construct and promote an ideology; George W. Bush makes explicit how such ideology is used in performance. Yet these practices, and the identification of them as specifically Texan in nature, are irrevocably affecting the creation and maintenance of the Lone Star façade.

By Leigh Clemons

Leigh Clemons is Associate Professor of Theatre and Women's and Gender Studies at Louisiana State University.

"Clemons writes an interesting and readable history of the construction of a cultural identity—the 'Texan'—on the local and global levels, making clear what is unique and what is commonplace about that identity. This is a significant contribution to the field—there is nothing else like it—and this book will take its place with recent cultural histories exploring, for example, Buffalo Bill and the Wild West show, rudeness and civility in nineteenth-century America, and constructions of gender."

—Rosemarie K. Bank, Professor of Theatre, Kent State University