Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

McCall, John

Abstract

The overall goal of this project is to examine the community within the Texas Renaissance Festival of Plantersville, Texas and how the social arrangements and identities created in and manipulated by this community go beyond standard existing social conditions in modern society. I intend to investigate the use of performance as a tool for the negotiation of festival space and community building. Performance is not simply a product of the culture born here in the festival space. Instead, it is an agent of that culture in that it marks the boundary between the real and unreal, the festival and the everyday. Why are individuals drawn to the festival lifestyle? How does the structure of this community go beyond the surface sense of solidarity found in many other performance groups? What role does performance play in the cohesion of the festival community? I will explore these questions by looking at aspects of gender roles, language play, and the multivocality of performance through ethnographic study and applying concepts such as space negotiation, counter-publics, and ideas of performance, ritual and play to the nature of the renaissance festival community.

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