By Naomi J. Stubbs (auth.)
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Additional resources for Cultivating National Identity through Performance: American Pleasure Gardens and Entertainment
In turn, this led to unrest, discontent, and ultimately violence and rioting at several of the pleasure gardens. I argue that while the pleasure gardens appeared to present a classless space to which all were welcome, they in fact provided a venue in which patrons were encouraged to “perform” class. While some proprietors fostered these performances, believing “equality” could be realized within their sites, most ultimately introduced measures that led to class divisions and tensions, reaffirming hierarchies of class in doing so.
1. Performing Nation: The Pleasure Garden as a Space for Defining America Ye Belles and Beaux, who take delight, In pastimes gay to spend the night, To Vaux-Hall Garden each repair, Where music soft and debonnaire, With pleasing raptures fires the mind, And dying murmers to the wind; Where the jet d’eau delights the eye, Throwing water to the sky; D escribing a typical evening at a pleasure garden, the first part of this 1799 poem describes a scene that could easily be set in Vauxhall of London; the simple amusements, choice of language, and even the name of the garden itself all conjure up an evening spent at Vauxhall in London.
These kinds of exhibits were seen on a smaller scale in other pleasure gardens (such as Washington Gardens), and demonstrate instances of the sites being used as a forum for demonstrating patriotic industry. In attending or contributing to these events, individual citizens Performing Nation 37 were provided with a means to celebrate the achievements of the nation within a patriotic framework. While advancements in industry were an important element in the development and recognition of national independence and values, battles and military accomplishments figured more highly within the pleasure gardens as a means of asserting national legitimacy.
Cultivating National Identity through Performance: American Pleasure Gardens and Entertainment by Naomi J. Stubbs (auth.)