Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Southern Studies

First Advisor

Ted Ownby

Second Advisor

Rebecca Marchiel

Third Advisor

Jay Watson

Relational Format



This thesis centers around the history of Opryland USA, a theme park and “musical showplace” that existed from 1972 to 1997 in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee. Using a variety of primary sources including park ephemera, newspaper articles, and songs, I show how, over its twenty-five years, Opryland became a country music theme park after initially presenting a seemingly diverse picture of American popular music. I reveal that, despite local businessowners’ and musicians’ reluctance to embrace Opryland at first, the park was accepted by many Nashvillians to the point where it is now nostalgically mourned. Then, putting those primary materials in conversation with secondary scholarship on twentieth-century southern history, this thesis connects the relatively unexplored story of Opryland to broader themes in modern southern history including suburbanization, the rise of the Christian Right, and questions of authenticity and distinctiveness in an increasingly interconnected world.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



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