Captain john smith, pocahontas, identity, american identity, memory, discourses, hagiography, hero, heroes, popular culture, constructed narratives, myths
Historical narratives and anecdotes concerning Captain John Smith have been told and retold throughout the entire history the United States of America, and they have proved to be sacred, influential, and contested elements in the construction of the individual, sectional, regional, and national identity of many. In this thesis, I first outline some of the history of how narratives and discourses surrounding Captain John Smith were directly connected with the identity of many Americans during the 18th and 19th century, especially Virginians and Southerners. Then I outline how these narratives and discourses from the 18th and 19th centuries have continued and evolved in the 20th and 21st centuries in American scholarship and popular culture. I demonstrate how Captain John Smith went from being used as a symbol for regional and sectional identity to a symbol for broader national American identity, and how he has anachronistically come to be considered an American. I then show how Captain John Smith has continued to be constructed, to a seemingly larger degree than previous centuries, as a hero of almost mythic proportions. Finally I demonstrate how this constructed American hero is used as a posterchild for various interest groups and ideologies in order to legitimize the places of certain discourses and behavior within constructed and contested American identities.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
History; Public History
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Corbett, Joseph, "Captain John Smith And American Identity: Evolutions Of Constructed Narratives And Myths In The 20th And 21st Centuries" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2523.