Constructing white Texas maleness : from the Texas Centennial of 1936 to the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963
This thesis demonstrates how the popular image of white Texas masculinity was constructed and used for political purposes in the period between the Texas Centennial in 1936 and the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in 1963. The image of white Texas maleness was reconstructed in the 1930s by a group of Texas writers/academics led by J. Frank Dobie, J. EvettsTlaley and Walter PrescottJVebb. Their version of Texas male mythology gave a degree of intellectual credence to the stereotyped version of Texas manhood, which was founded on the problems and exploits of stronanaconfident individualistic men and their attempts to maintain or to wrest power. This manner of Texas maleness had its root in the mix of truth and mythology which popularly represented nineteenth century Texas history. These writers were profoundly influenced by the political environment of their time and their* perspective on Texas maleness reflected this. 1 Other writers, most notably Edward Anderson and Nelson Agren, with an equally distinct but separate political agenda, challenged the basis of the white Texas male's iconic status and offered a radically different view of Texas manhood. Therefore, two ideologically distinct versions of white Texas maleness, one based on those with societal power and influence, and the other based on those without, were created. The societal import of the concept of white Texas maleness was reflected in the attitude of the state's press and the adoption of the stereotypical image by those in Texas who wielded socio-economic and political power. Central to the thesis is how conflicting arms of the Texas press, liberal and conservative, saw and addressed the image of the state's men. The thesis will also discuss how the obvious political potential of the stereotyped image was employed in film and literature during politically sensitive periods in American history. For example, the hnageof white Texas maleness in film and literaturejjeerjgrated in the aftermath of the Kennedy killing and the subsequent Presidency of the Texan, Lyndon Johnson, when many writers and film-makers saw Texas and its manhood as representing all that they believed to be wrong with American society.