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Colloquium Series Participants Bios and Abstracts - April 28, 2011

"Show Indians"/Showing Indians: Buffalo Bill's Wild West and the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Rosemarie Bank

Abstract

Scholarship about William F. Cody, "Buffalo Bill," and Buffalo Bill's Wild West has, undeniably, become an industry.  As a man, a myth, a celebrity, a showman, a fraud, a frontiersman, a legend, a husband, a philanderer, a marksman, a phenomenon, a businessman, a failed businessman, a producer, and in many other aspects of life, theatre, and cultural history, more has been written about William F. ("Buffalo Bill") Cody than, perhaps, any other American.  What more can possibly be said?

Among the several aspects of Cody's career and practices that have not fully come to light are the relationship between Buffalo Bill's Wild West and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  What I propose reaches beyond contract information and epistolary disputes to an exploration of the connection between the B.I.A. and American anthropologists--Morgan, Putnam, Boas--around the time of the Wounded Knee/Columbian Exposition events (c. 1890-94), with an eye to examining B.I.A. philosophy and procedures with respect to Amerindians and those of William F. Cody and Buffalo Bill's Wild West.  It appears that I will be able to argue the constraints and modernism of the former against the liberty and traditionalism of the latter.  The triumph of Buffalo Bill's cultural version of Amerindians set a conflicting course that cast 'show Indians' (Amerindian performers, in B.I.A. lingo) against "showing Indians" (the content of the performances they executed in Buffalo Bill's Wild West).  This tension is visible in theatre history well into the twentieth century and is currently under historiographical de/reconstruction.

Bio

Rosemarie Bank has published in Theatre Journal, Nineteenth-Century Theatre, Theatre History Studies, Essays in Theatre, Theatre Research International, Modern Drama, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, Women in American Theatre, Feminist Rereadings of Modern American Drama, The American Stage, Critical Theory and Performance (both editions), Performing America, Interrogating America through Theatre and Performance, and Borders and Thresholds.  She is the author of Theatre Culture in America, 1825-1860 (Cambridge U. P., 1997) and is currently preparing Staging the Native, 1792-1892.  A member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, she was Editor of Theatre Survey from 2000 to 2003 and currently serves on several editorial boards of scholarly journals in theatre.  Several times a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. Bank is a Professor of Theatre at Kent State University.

Kinky Friedman and His Texas Jewboys in a New Historical and Geographical Perspective
Theodore Albrecht

Abstract

Born in Chicago in 1944, Richard S. Friedman moved to Kerrville, Texas, with his parents in 1953, and graduated from high school in Austin in 1962. While majoring in psychology at the University of Texas, he maintained the musical activities that had earlier been his recreational outlet (Country/Western bands), and was dubbed "Kinky" (for his curly hair) by one of his band members. After two years in the Peace Corps in Borneo, he founded "Kinky Friedman and His Texas Jewboys" (a Country band with a social conscience) in 1971, and created a sensation, from his shocking parodies of mainstream Country music ("Asshole From El Paso") to his poignantly satirical commentary on the Holocaust ("Ride 'em, Jewboy"). 

For the past two decades, Kinky Friedman has been active as a novelist (detective stories, set in New York and featuring himself), political satirist, tongue-in-cheek candidate for public offices, and professional "personality."

This paper examines and evaluates Kinky Friedman's activities as a musical humorist in the historical and cultural context of Jewish heritage in modern Texas, from alcalde Adolphus Sterne in Nacogdoches in the 1820s, through the German and Jewish immigration later in the century, as well as European immigration during and after World War II, to immigrants from elsewhere in the United States in the 1950s and beyond.

Bio

Only eleven months younger than Kinky Friedman, Theodore Albrecht likewise came to Texas in 1953, was considered to be Jewish (which he wasn't) because he "talked like a Yankee," and graduated from high school in San Antonio, only eighty miles south of Friedman's Austin. Albrecht had first visited conservative Agudas Achim in San Antonio at age 12, and, during his college years, developed an enduring admiration for the congregation's Cantor Emanuel Barkan. Whereas Friedman served in the Peace Corps in Borneo, Albrecht served in the U.S. Army, though peacefully sorting mail, in an Army post office in Frankfurt, Germany.

Specializing in Musicology and orchestral conducting in graduate school at the University of North Texas, Albrecht wrote a doctoral dissertation on the German contributions to music in the state up to World War I. At the same time, he studied with historian Irby Coghill Nichols and especially, in relation to this paper, the respected cultural geographer Terry G. Jordan. He is the author of several scholarly articles on music in Texas, as well as a dozen articles for the authoritative New Handbook of Texas (6 vols., 1996).

After graduating for the fourth time in 1975, Albrecht taught at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina (1975-76); Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio (1976-80); Park College in Kansas City, Missouri (1980-92); and, since 1992, at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, where most of his colleagues and students perceive him as a Beethoven scholar, but few suspect his adoptive Redneck loyalties---both similar to and different from Kinky Friedman's---in Texas!!

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