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Title [Buffalo Bill and Dutch Understanding about the American West between: 1880-1940] To what extent did the Buffalo Bill-legend influence Dutch understanding of the American West’
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Publication Date
Degree Level masters
University/Publisher Universiteit Utrecht
Abstract William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, is one of the most well-known figures in American history. The former bison hunter was famous for his heroic adventures and charismatic personality. His phrases “about balky mules, riders who killed three thousand buffalos, horses who ate men and his Indian exploits” were adopted everywhere.1 He even used the term ‘rough riders’ before Teddy Roosevelt did.2 However, Cody was not only known for his personality. He was also an entertainer and his Wild-West shows toured around the United States and Europe. Romanticized evens and characters of the Old West attracted a large number of people. As a result, Cody and his shows became a symbol for the ‘Wild West’. The Buffalo Bill Historical Centre (BBHC) in Cody Wyoming researches this subject. Many books and articles have been written on Cody’s influence on American culture. This resulted in fascinating insights. For example, Jay S. Kasson asserted that he did not only represent “a great entertainment form” but also “a link between national identity and popular culture”.3 This means that the Wild West show should not be understood as just a show. It also implicates the dissemination of a certain image about America’s identity. This explains why Buffalo Bill is such a popular topic among American authors. However, Cody’s influence on European perceptions is less well researched. This is an interesting observation because it is a well-known fact that Buffalo Bill made three tours on the Continent. The BBHC has therefore started an international research project to solve this problem. The academic importance of this research should not be underestimated. W.T. Stead already wrote in his book The Americanization of the World (1902) “how the rest of the world would be inevitably swamped by American products and American cultural values”.4 This prognosis clearly realized when looking back in history. Coca-Cola, Hollywood, semantic influences and of course the ‘Wild West’-cult can all be found in European culture. Therefore, the Buffalo Bill’s popular shows may have changed European perceptions about America to great extent. This suggestion is strengthened when focusing for example on the Mussolini Propaganda. Italian fascists claimed that Cody originated from Italian condottieri. They were not the only ones who wrote about his influence. Don Russell describes in his book ‘the lives and legends of Buffalo Bill’ how the English started to see "the American West as one of the romantic and adventurous areas of the world" after the spectacular shows "invaded England in 1887".5 As a result of these observations, the influence of the ‘Buffalo Bill-legend’ on Europe should be researched in greater detail because it could tell something about how Europeans visualized the American West. This thesis will not address whole of Europe but only the Netherlands despite the fact that Cody never visited this country. Regardless, Buffalo Bill was still very popular among the Dutch. A databank for newspapers shows that his name can be found in…
Subjects/Keywords Buffalo Bill, William Cody, American West, Wild West, West, Dutch Newspapers, Newspaper, Texcauclar, Native Americans, Racism, Ethnicity, Wild West Show, Wyoming, Montana, Netherlands
Contributors Verheul, Jaap; Kroes, Rob
Language en
Rights info:eu-repo/semantics/OpenAccess
Country of Publication nl
Format text/plain
Record ID oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/292923
Repository utrecht
Date Indexed 2016-09-27

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…will analyze how Dutch newspapers wrote about Buffalo Bill and his show between 1880 and 1900. The Wild West show toured around Europe and attracted thousands of people but without organizing a performance in the Netherlands. Regardless, the popularity…

…American entertainment does not mean that Dutch newspapers only saw Buffalo Bill within an American context. A majority of the articles pointed at a bigger development. Feest for example argues that several European audiences recognized Western superiority…

…uittrokken. Gelijk een wervelwind renden zij in de omheining rond”.112 Their distinguishing features such ‘war paint’ and ‘horrifying’ clothing are often mentioned. The Dutch newspapers also connected the 104 Vanden Berghe, "De invloed.” Feest, Indians…

…strong parallels with other countries. As seen above, many European countries started to think about the development and consequences of ‘modernization’.116 Dutch newspapers often point at a conflict between two cultures. Native Americans are not only…

…advertisements in almost every city, his performances dominated the local newspapers, and the earlier mentioned dime novels were still sold in large numbers around the whole country.27 The show did not only tour around the United States but also traveled three…

…showman. His Wild West show became extremely successful and professional over the years. The mixture of the Buffalo Bill legend with stories of the frontier attracted numerous visitors from all classes. Some newspapers stated that he brought the Wild West…

…over the years. Seeing ‘Cherokee’ and ‘Sioux’ trial members ‘at work’ and their ‘daily lives’ fascinated countless visitors who normally only red about them in newspapers or other sources.44 This ‘exotic’ element became especially important in Europe…

…dominated the newspapers.65 These variations do not mean that the conclusions of authors as Kasson and Slotkin are incorrect. General patterns of the show can be found within these countries. However, it means that there are also patterns that are unique for…

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