Author

Jeff Dietrich

Date of Award

2011

First Advisor

Chris Coggins

Second Advisor

Mary Marcy

Abstract

The American frontier of the nineteenth century has long been considered as a space wherein tests of masculinity and individual competence allowed for the creation of some sort of unique, American character. Arguably, without the frontier, the notion of the ―American‖ would not exist with the vigor, pervasiveness, and assigned importance that it possesses today. This thesis articulates a particular understanding of the frontier imagination in the United States, indebted to Frederick Jackson Turner‘s thesis regarding the processes by which an ideal American character is crafted in the Crucible space of the frontier. The second part of the thesis brings this narrative of Americanization into the contemporary, arguing that one of the main spaces of its continued influence is in the culture and institution of the military. Exploring the ways in which this imagination influences and is harnessed by the military in order to craft future generations of warrior Americans, the thesis concludes with an examination of the repercussions of studying this historical narrative going into the 21st century.

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