Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Frontier Identity in Cultural Events in Holmes County, Florida

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

First Advisor

David Wharton

Second Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Third Advisor

Ted Ownby

Abstract

Holmes County, Florida plays host to several cultural events that perpetuate a frontier identity for its citizens. These events include the dedication of a homesteading cabin, which serves as the meeting place for other "pioneer days" events; "Drums along the Choctawhatchee", an event put on by a local Creek Indian tribe that celebrates the collaborative nature of pioneer and Native Americans; the 66th annual North West Florida Championship Rodeo; and a local fish-fry. Each of these events celebrates the frontier identity of the county in unique and important ways. Using the images of the frontier created by William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West show and the ideas championed by Fredrick Jackson Turner in his famous essay "The Importance of the Frontier in American History" as models, Holmes County constructs its own frontier image through the celebration of these combined cultural events. I attended each of these events, conducting interviews with residents in order to find out how and why Holmes County chooses to champion the frontier identity embodied in these collective celebrations. In addition to the narrative presentation my thesis also includes a visual and adiovisual component. The film, In the Pines: Stories of Violence in Holmes County, Florida, demonstrates how stories of violence shared by community members help shape the communities identity as a "wild west" or frontier place. The photo book, The Sweet Water Country, presents visual images of many of the cultural events discussed in the thesis paper and also documents the rural and wild nature of the landscape. These three parts of the thesis work together to provide a comprehensive portrait of Holmes County and its rich cultural heritage, highlighting its image as a frontier place and examining the process which it creates this identity by constructing a useable story from its memories.

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