Performing American Identity in Anti-Mormon Melodrama
Routledge – 2009 – 14 pages
In the late nineteenth century, melodramas were spectacular entertainment for Americans. They were also a key forum in which elements of American culture were represented, contested, and inverted. This book focuses specifically on the construction of the Mormon villain as rapist, murderer, and Turk in anti-Mormon melodramas. These melodramas illustrated a particularly religious world-view that dominated American life and promoted the sexually conservative ideals of the cult of true womanhood. They also examined the limits of honorable violence, and suggested the whiteness of national ethnicity. In investigating the relationship between theatre, popular literature, political rhetoric, and religious fervor, Megan Sanborn Jones reveals how anti-Mormon melodramas created a space for audiences to imagine a unified American identity.
Introduction: Outside/Inside America 1. The Christian Melodramatic Mode 2. Rapists: The Sexual Fantasy of Polygamy 3. Murderers: The Necessity of Honorable Violence 4. Turks: Appropriating Ethnicity. Conclusion: The Paradox of Identity. Notes. Bibliography. Index.
Megan Sanborn Jones is an assistant professor in the Theatre and Media Arts Department at Brigham Young University. Her research has been published in Theatre Journal, State of the Art, and The Journal of Mormon History. Her essay, "(Re)living the Pioneer Past" was the cover article of Theatre Topics (September 2006).