March 7, 2017

Branding Texas: Performing Culture in the Lone Star State by Leigh Clemons

By Leigh Clemons

Ask a person to call an archetypal Texan, and you are prone to get a larger-than-life personality from movie or tv (say John Wayne's Davy Crockett or J. R. Ewing of TV's Dallas) or a political candidate with that definite swagger (think LBJ or George W. Bush). that each one of those figures are white and male and bursting with self-confidence isn't any coincidence, asserts Leigh Clemons. during this considerate learn of what makes a ''Texan,'' she finds how Texan identification grew out of the history--and, much more, the myth--of the heroic deeds played through Anglo males throughout the Texas Revolution and the years of the Republic and the way this identification is built and maintained by way of theatre and different representational practices. Clemons appears to be like at a variety of venues within which ''Texanness'' is played, together with ancient websites equivalent to the Alamo, the battlefield at Goliad, and the San Jacinto Monument; museums similar to the Bob Bullock Texas country historical past Museum; seasonal outside dramas resembling Texas! at Palo Duro Canyon; movies akin to John Wayne's The Alamo and the IMAX's Alamo: the cost of Freedom; performs and television indicates corresponding to the Tuna trilogy, Dallas, and King of the Hill; and the Cavalcade of Texas functionality on the 1936 Texas Centennial. She persuasively demonstrates that those performances have created a Texan identification that has develop into a model, a commodity that may be offered to the general public or even manipulated for political reasons.

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The chapel, with its anteroom displays of state and national flags denoting the homelands of the 187 men who perished during the March 6 battle, is devoted completely to the memorialization and veneration of bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice—the buzzwords of the Alamo. The Long Barrack museum tells the history of the colonization of Texas and of the events of the Revolution and the Alamo’s place within them; it commemorates the heroes of Texas who were soldiers and statesmen. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library at the Alamo contains information about a variety of Alamo representations, from the history of the historic site to press releases from John Wayne’s movie to the work of the DRT (whose membership consists of blood descendants of the original Texas settlers and participants in the Revolution) throughout the past century in preserving the Alamo as a shrine to Texas liberty and the men who died fighting for it.

The battle sites, museums, and performance spaces located within the state help to reinforce Texas’ national narrative by providing a space for literal and figurative pedagogy. Yet, these sites, despite their tight construction and desire to represent the real story of Texas, also provide opportunities for performative engagement with these narratives and their historical biases. Within the context of Texan cultural identity, the idea of “history” and, more specifically, history in performance, occupies a place all its own.

Museums are no longer merely the purview of the elite; they serve to preserve and present information on a whole host of topics, from Dalí to Barbie dolls, fashion to football. What has been slower to emerge than the museum is the understanding that all museum spaces are engaged in the telling of a certain type of story about the information they contain. ”  Public or private, national or local, historical or cultural—museums use cultural artifacts to create an environment that tells a story, creating an architectural space of memory.

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