Geography Program (SNR)

 

Date of this Version

8-2009

Comments

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Geography. Under the Supervision of Professor David J. Wishart.
Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2009
Copyright 2009 © Rebecca A. Buller

Abstract

As newcomers developed Nebraska settlements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they began to shape the space. This study explores the intersections of place, time, and entertainment in rural Nebraska from the beginning of European American settlement in the late 19th century to the end of the Great Depression. Through such examinations, we can better understand the historical geographies of individual and collective human experience. With such knowledge, we can then recognize how entertainment reflected social life, sense of place, place attachment, and the intricacies and larger scale trends of race, ethnicity, gender, age, class, nationality, and religion.

In this work, a variety of sources are mined and examined through primarily qualitative methods. The acknowledgment that research is subjective and selective is present in researching, writing, and producing the narrative. Literature from a variety of disciplines informs the research. Such a study adds to scholarship by incorporating contemporary approaches, methodologies, and theories, such as humanistic, post-modern, feminist, and post-colonial, to the geographic case study approach that has been criticized for being too descriptive and lacking theory.

Each chapter contains an examination of leisure activities. Chapter 1, entitled “Everyday Leisure Activities,” explores a wide variety of common entertainments available to people living in and visiting rural Nebraska. The rest of the study examines specific activities via case studies. The Walter Savidge Amusement Company in the early 20th century is the heart of Chapter 2, “Traveling Shows.” Chapter 3, “Ethnic- Religious Entertainment: The German Russian Mennonites of Henderson” demonstrates how leisure activities could vary from the mainstream depending upon a group’s ethnic, national, and religious characteristics. Chapters 4 and 5 explore the state’s amusement parks in the early 20th century by discovering the personality of The Long Pine Amusement Park during its first eight years. The last section, “The Broader Context,” sifts out themes of race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, nationality, and religion, illustrating how they were manifested in entertainment.
Adviser: David J. Wishart

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